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Using Star and Reward Charts

Posted by Karen Faulkner on
Using Star and Reward Charts

I do the occasional toddler seminar so thank you to the many lovely parents who come along. As always seminars will always raise interesting issues about toddler behaviour! And a recent seminar was no exception.

Tracy told us about her lovely daughter, Millie aged 2 and three quarters. She has red hair and is quite a spirited child, is curious and knows how to push the buttons! Got the picture? Tracy described a situation where Millie will frequently undo her child seat safety straps, just as they are cruising along on the motorway at a leisurely 110km/h! Imagine?!

What do you do?

So we all had a think and discussion and I felt the way forward was a star chart. Star charts can be overused and then create apathy but used correctly they are a piece of pure gold.

Star charts should only be used to target one behaviour at a time and only used for a maximum of two weeks. Here's an article that cautions against long-term use of star charts:

It's really important to make sure that behaviour to be achieved is realistic and the child is capable of change.

Your child needs to be 'bought into it'. Choosing the reward together can really help. It has to be something desired by the child and definitely a non-food reward.

Examples of rewards

The child has to really desire that prize so choose it carefully. It can help to give a small prize after week one and a larger one after week two.
  • A trip to the cinema to see a children's movie.
  • Choosing what clothes to wear for a few days - could be interesting!
  • Having a friend over to play.
  • Having an extra bedtime story.
  • Going somewhere alone on a special trip together.
  • Going for a picnic.
  • A day at the beach.
  • A reasonably priced toy.

Other things to bear in mind with a star chart

  • Choose the stickers with your child.
  • Explain what you are going to do with the star chart and the rules.
  • Get your child to choose the star chart and put it on their bedroom door at their height so they can put the stickers on, or on any accessible place e.g. the kitchen fridge.
  • Let the child put their earned sticker on their chart.
  • Praise any wanted behaviour immediately by words, eye contact and a touch or hug.
  • Get the behaviour first, then give the reward.
  • Do not remove any stickers.
  • Award the sticker as soon as the behaviour occurs.
  • Week one you may get three days out of seven with a positive behaviour. Week two you may get five to six out of seven. It is important not to set the bar too high otherwise apathy and abandonment of the chart results.
  • You might want to get your child to set up the reward system if they are older.
  • As soon as your child can understand rewards you can use star charts, usually over two to three years old.
  • Keep it simple.

Here's a link to a few star charts you can print off and use

Or you could get your child to make their own. Put their name on it with days of the week and what it is for.

Have fun and happy star charting!

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