How To Implement A Token Reward System

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What comes around goes around. I truly believe in that. As a kid, I was a bit shy but I was also a bit mouthy. Back then I liked to think of my comebacks and know-it-all attitude as witty, but really I was just being a bratty kid. Now that I’m a parent, I’m getting a taste of what I was like as a child. My daughter is just like me. She’s shy but once she starts talking, it’s hard to get her to stop and oy. some of the things that come out of her mouth are way ahead of her pay grade. She’s a sweet kid but she’s also headstrong and stubborn (yes…like me). Like many kids, she thrives on compliments and rewards and that’s why we’ve implemented a token reward system in our house.

token reward system

To play along, Kurt and I also got a token jar.

The idea behind a token reward system is very simple. A child exhibits good behavior and is given a token for that good behavior. The child then trades in the tokens for rewards he/she can’t get any other way. This encourages and motivates the child to continue with the good behavior and hopefully, the bad behavior decreases because it doesn’t serve a purpose for the child.

In kid terms: act like you’re asked to and be rewarded with tokens that you can use for something you want.

Implementing a token reward system is straightforward but not always easy to follow through with. It takes discipline on the part of the parents and other caregivers.

provide structure token reward system

Provide Structure

The first step is putting structure in place for the child. Set rules, expectations and have a clear-cut routine your child can rely upon. Established routines equal predictability, which feels safe. The structure creates a secure environment and trust develops between you and your child. Types of structure can include house rules (everyone eats dinner together, no yelling in the house), daily routines (homework and then baths), pre-determine consequences (if you leave your toys on the floor, they get put in the garage) and even weekly family meetings to talk about plans for the upcoming week.

Positive Reinforcement

Next, reward good behavior with tokens! Catch you child being good because the worst behaved kids are good sometimes. It may seem like you’re making it too easy on them but you want them to know what it feels like to be rewarded for positive behavior. For example, with my daughter she sometimes forgets to please and thank you. It seems so simple but by giving her a token when she uses her manners, she’s done so much better.

be specific token reward system

Be Specific

Tell your child exactly what their token is for. For example, one of my daughter’s responsibilities is to unload the silverware from the dishwasher. If she does this the first time she is asked, she gets a token. If she does this without me asking, she gets two tokens. If she pays attention and tells me when we have stuck-on food on the silverware, she gets three tokens. After too many times of pulling out a spoon with dried on food, I had to up the anty and I also had to look into a different dishwasher detergent!

Establish Rewards with a Cost

Remember, you’re giving your child tokens so they can earn rewards…things that aren’t available any other way. If my daughter wants to go out for ice cream, it costs her 20 tokens. If she wants to color in the living room, it costs her 5 tokens. If she wants to put in the dishwasher detergent and start the dishwasher (weird, I know but I supervise her doing it so she doesn’t hide them in her room or something), it costs her 2 tokens. The key is to find out what is important to your child and set the cost appropriately.

Implementing a token reward system has made a world of difference with my daughter. While she still has her moments (what kid doesn’t), they are steadily decreasing. She knows what is expected of her and if she does good things, she gets awarded appropriately.

finish dishwasher detergent
If your kid is as fascinated with starting the dishwasher as mine, the next time you’re at Walmart pick up some Finish Quantum tabs. Walmart has it on rollback until October so you can even save even more change with this coupon and use that cost savings as a reward!

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About Sarah

Mom. Blogger. Runner. Hiker. Insomniac. Not necessarily in that order.

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