When it comes to keeping a check on your little one’s behaviour, rewards can be a very handy parenting tool. Most children are able to grasp the idea from the age of three.

The daily, weekly or monthly record of your child’s good deeds can set you free from temper tantrums, bad manners and a multitude of childhood sins.

One method is to use a chart to earn stickers or stars for good behaviour, and when your child has collected a certain number, there’s a big reward, like a coveted toy or a trip to soft play. Let your child choose what they would like to do – within reason, of course!

Alternatively, for something more immediate, you could have a reward bag or box filled with small but fun items (the pound shop is your friend), and reward your child with a ‘lucky dip’ when your child does something good.

Reward charts can be a big hit but they can also go wrong, so follow these important rules to make sure yours is a winner…

10 golden rules of reward charts

  1. Focus on one behaviour at a time.
  2. Make the target behaviour something that is easily achievable.
  3. Work with your child – ask how they think they can improve their behaviour.
  4. Ensure that your child is very clear about which kind of behaviour will be rewarded.
  5. Engage them in buying/making/choosing the reward chart and the stickers.
  6. Let your child choose the reward (within reason, making it something they enjoy, such as going to play in the park).
  7. Reward the behaviour with a sticker whenever it’s achieved.
  8. Use a menu of rewards e.g two stickers = extra story at bedtime; four stickers = a trip to the library; six stickers = a trip to the park.
  9. Don’t start too young – it’s a complicated concept for under-threes to grasp.
  10. Don’t pit siblings against each other.

Things to avoid

It’s best to avoid offering food as a reward, as this can set up unhelpful and unhealthy food associations where ‘naughty foods’ like sweets become highly desirable. The biggest reward you can give your child is your time and attention.

Often misbehaviour is a child’s way of getting your attention. Check your child is getting one-to-one time with you on a daily basis and that the misbehaviour is not a bid for attention. Be sure you are using praise and paying positive attention to your little one when they are being kind and cooperative.

Reward or bribery?

If you’re worried about the fine line between reward charts and bribery, the Private Child Psychology Cambridge practice has these words of advice:

“I have been told on occasion that children should do things because they want to, not for material gain (e.g. rewards). My answer in this instance, is ‘How many of us would go to work if we were not paid?’ The answer, realistically, is none of us!”

This advice was originally posted by Netmums. Click here to view the original article.