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Are Reward Charts really THAT bad?

(34 Posts)
SleepForTheWeek Wed 05-Apr-17 08:11:22

I've read on a lot or articles/blogs/discussions that reward charts are actually not that good at promoting better behaviour. What's the thought behind this?

I was thinking of starting one for DD (2.5) to encourage specific better cooperation with a few things that we struggle with (getting changed in the morning/teeth brushing etc). So, if she does these things with no fuss she'll get a start and if she X amount of stars she'll get a small reward (new colouring book/kinder egg/magazine etc)

Would that be terrible? I wouldn't punish her by taking stars away, just acknowledge her good behaviour with stars.

What are your thoughts on this? Please be honest

AssassinatedBeauty Wed 05-Apr-17 10:17:08

I don't know the theory of it all, but I don't like the idea of rewarding for behaviour that should be an expected norm. I think the idea is that children get the idea that they will only behave if they get a reward and you end up having to reward for all sorts of things just to get normal behaviour. I wouldn't use a reward chart for things like getting dressed or brushing teeth - they're non negotiable basic things.

I have used reward charts for very specific things that are out of the ordinary. So, my DS1 needed a slightly unpleasant medical treatment daily for a period of time and hated it because it was slightly painful. We did a reward chart for that because it was for a limited time, and because he was finding it hard to let me do it, even though he knew he needed it. So I think they can be useful in certain circumstances. I would never reward with food though, as I don't like the idea of treating certain foods as a highly sought after prize iyswim.

ContraryToPopularBelief Wed 05-Apr-17 10:23:53

I have used reward charts LOADS in order to teach a particular kind of behaviour e.g. Making bed before school. There are tiny immediate rewards for doing it in the first few days (maybe a jelly baby) then slightly bigger rewards at certain milestones.

They always naturally fall away from needing the reward as it becomes expected behaviour. IMO they are a very positive way of learning responsibility. My kids are 7, 9 and 11 and we haven't needed one for years as they understand if I ask them to clean up or do a job for me.

StarlitTrees Wed 05-Apr-17 11:25:50

We started one at the start of this year (DS turned 3 at the start of December).
I bought a calendar and if he follows the rules all day he gets to put a sticker on that day.
5 stickers = £1.
Rules are nothing major just general behaviour like :
do what mummy and daddy tell you to do.
Don't interrupt when grown ups are talking.
Look after your toys.
Don't run off when out and about.

The only 'job' we have is take your plate out to the sink.

We have added in rules when certain bad behaviour shows, like no biting and hitting. And no screaming.
But after a while take them out when it's not an issue anymore.

He likes reading the rules before bed and we talk about what he might need to work on the next day.
It might not be for everyone but it has really worked for us and he seems to enjoy it.
He can then take his money and buy a new toy from the shop so it teaches him the value of things.

SleepForTheWeek Wed 05-Apr-17 11:31:47

Yes, I understand where you are coming from assassinated. I know these things are basic but they sometimes cause unnecessary fights and upset, if I could get her in the way of doing these things without fuss and then obviously stop rewarding after a while that would be my goal.

Is there anyone who has used a reward chart that it didn't work or didn't promote the behaviour they wanted after the rewards were stopped? Would be interesting to hear.

I'm due anther baby in a few weeks and trying to think of ways to make life easier! Wishful thinking

DesignedForLife Wed 05-Apr-17 21:32:21

I've been using one with DD 2.5, I used it lots to start with, not so much now. It's turned around the way she treats her baby brother. She used to snatch everything away from him and get really upset if he had any toy. Now she goes and gets him toys without us asking (still snatches sometimes but we'll get there).

redandwhite1 Wed 05-Apr-17 22:54:18

We had one. Stay in your bed all night = a star

5 stars = treat (treat being a small chocolate)

It's worked great - took a good 3 weeks and don't need it anymore as he knows he needs to stay in bed

Now we have an exceptional one and it's for exceptionally good days, trying new foods, getting a hair cut etc

5 stars = small chocolate treat

KP86 Wed 05-Apr-17 22:57:36

Worked for us re. toilet training although we were not great with remembering the chart itself! But the carrot approach (one sweetie) worked.

Then after a while we told him no reward 'you don't need that anymore' which he accepted pretty easily.

We try with other things, like staying in bed until gro clock wakes up but not quite there yet.

I don't think at 2.5 he would have got it, but some kids are smarter than mine... wink

CMamaof4 Wed 05-Apr-17 22:58:49

I used them in the past, I found them really helpful at promoting good behaviour and as other poster stated they just naturally fall away. Its a great way of teaching young children how they should behave.

Tortycat Wed 05-Apr-17 23:05:23

They can be great at promoting specific behaviours but are often done badly.
A) pick something specific. It can be an expected behaviour e.g. teeth brushing is perfect. Be pragmatic - they won't need rewarding forever as pp have said charts can drop off after a while
B) don't aim for successes 'in a row ' e.g treat at the weekend if you earn a star every day. This just highlights failures if there are any
C) never take stars away once they're earnt
D) make rewards fit your child's age e.g. you get children need immediate rewards, older ones can wait to accumulate more for bigger rewards

Tortycat Wed 05-Apr-17 23:06:22

Younger not you get!

AnnieAnoniMouse Wed 05-Apr-17 23:11:53

When you're not currently living with a 2.5 year old, they sound incredibly little to expect much from, but when you are living with one the seem perfectly 'old enough' to know better & do better. Perspective is everything!

Frankly, (and hindsight is AMAZING) I'd totally love bomb her, just enjoy her & this last few weeks you have together before the baby arrives. Just make her feel loved, special & secure. Anything re safety is not negotiable, but the rest of it, meh, let it go.

Anyway, rewards charts, like many things with kids, it depends on the kid - and how the parent implements it. My friend reckons it works for them, it just makes me laugh, her DS is on his four hundred and forty forth reward chart I swear. He does x until he gets his reward, then stops doing y that he was previously doing just fine, gets his reward then stops doing Z, which he was doing just fine...he's not bloody stupid 🤣 My friend and her DH on the other hand....

Personally I cba with them. My raised eyebrow & tone of voice work well 😂

SleepForTheWeek Thu 06-Apr-17 00:00:45

Thanks everyone - really helpful to hear different opinions and experiences.

I know she's still so little, and she's generally not bad for a toddler. I wouldn't push things like sharing toys or toilet training that I know are developmental.

Tis afternoon for example, I really needed to take the dog a quick walk round the block as DH wasn't going to be home till late. It took a bit of convincing but she did agree to come and was really really good on our walk - i praised her when we got home but thought this would be a time that I would give her a star. I was expecting a big kick off/refusing coat and shoes etc and making it then impossible to head outdoors.

We are very soft gentle in our approach to parenting - try not to raise our voices or get too wound up with tantrums - but there are certain things that need worked on and she's quite receptive to new ideas.

purplemunkey Thu 06-Apr-17 00:13:17

I have a 2.5yr old DD and we have a sticker chart. She had been getting a sticker for staying in bed all night and a sticker for walking home nicely (so similar to your scenario this afternoon). She loves it, she gives us stickers too when she gets one which is sweet. I think she's a little young to understand the build up of stickers equalling a treat (the sticker is reward enough it seems!) but we do connect small treats to the chart e.g. because you had three stars in a row you can have ice cream tonight or whatever.

She's not bothered about getting them for staying in bed all night now but it worked really well in terms of getting us all sleeping better in the first place. It's now just normal behaviour for her so I haven't seen the theory that they'll only behave well if there's a reward play out.

We're planning on giving potty training a go soon and I'll probably use it again.

AnnieAnoniMouse Thu 06-Apr-17 00:17:47

it took a bit of convincing, but she did agree to come

Does Not Compute. In my world, 2 year olds get told (nicely) what's happening (with some Carrot if it'll help, such as 'and when we get back we can do/have xyz') & then it happens. No 'convincing' and no opportunity to agree/disagree, it just is. You don't have to raise your voice to be firm.

But I realise that those born past 1979 don't have the benefit of a 1970's upbringing 😂 Bunch of bloody softies...the kids will not melt from being TOLD! Honestly they won't, 'tis a fact!

SleepForTheWeek Thu 06-Apr-17 08:01:27

Annie try 'walking' round the block with a screaming 2 stone toddler under your arm while walking a dog at 30 weeks pregnant! There are some situations which can't just be tackled by the tough parent approach

SleepForTheWeek Thu 06-Apr-17 08:24:38

And surely convincing her is the same as 'and when we get back you'll get x y z'? The carrot I waved was being able to collect sticks to make a 'nest' while we were out.

wejammin Thu 06-Apr-17 08:32:16

I never used reward charts until we started the joy of the school run. Not enough time and so much pressure to get out of the house with a 4 year old and a 2 year old made me rethink!
Now we have a routine chart which has pictures that show the children they need to have a wee (Yes, basics!) eat breakfast nicely, brush teeth and get dressed, all without fuss.
Each successful activity gets a tick, each tick earns an item out of the tick box to play with before school. After school run the stuff goes back in the tick box for the next day, and the stuff in the box is, to be honest, loads of tat out of party bags or the pound shop, stickers and pens, occasionally a cereal bar or bag of rice cakes, but they love it.

wejammin Thu 06-Apr-17 08:34:33

I should add I read all the Alfie Kohn and other stuff on unconditional parenting, but it just got to the point that it wasn't practical or possible to manage the fallout everyday with explaining/empathising/communicating. I still try and apply the principles elsewhere

SleepForTheWeek Thu 06-Apr-17 08:51:22

Glad it's working for you wejammin - I will be In a similar situation in a couple years with the school run and already dreading it!!

Never heard of Alfie Kohn?

Littlepond Thu 06-Apr-17 08:52:20

the problem with reward charts is you are rewarding the bad behaviour inadvertently. So child A is brilliant at brushing teeth and getting into pyjamas, but won't stay in bed. But the good behaviour (getting ready) isn't rewarded, instead the bad behaved targetted (you get a sticker if you stay in bed!) then once it becomes standard behaviour ("they always stay in bed now!") the reward is taken away! That seems really backwards to me!

I don't like sticker charts and wouldn't use them. Certain behaviour is expected in my house because it is the right thing to do, not to get a shiny sticker.

My children are aged between 7 and 13 and people are always commenting on their behaviour - strangers have approached me and said how nice it is to see such well behaved kids etc. I have always favoured gentle parenting, no time outs or punishments, no sticker charts or bribes. We talk, we establish expectations, we have logical consequences. (And sometimes I yell and sometimes I cry and sometimes I ban the iPad. Hey, we can't all be perfect...)

But, my way worked for me. Parenting isn't a one size fits all. A colleague once said to me that the reason I was "able" to do gentle parenting is because I was lucky to have children without difficult behaviour. My view is that it is the other way around, but who knows?

wejammin Thu 06-Apr-17 09:15:43

Littlepond I don't think it's right that the good behaviour has to be unrewarded. If Child A is amazing at toothbrushing then surely when they brush their teeth this is reinforced with "thank you for brushing your teeth so nicely, we've got time for 2 stories now etc etc" and further reinforced when (hopefully) the dentist says that their teeth are in great health. Trying to resolve a problem area with a positive outcome (reward) shouldn't mean overlooking all the good things DCs are doing everyday.

BurnTheBlackSuit Thu 06-Apr-17 09:26:46

Another point about them, and one pp have mentioned, is that the child expects an external reward instead of the internal reward of how good it is to do x. Think professional footballers who need to be paid more and more and don't just love playing football anymore. So to combat this, the reward chart needs to be used as a tool to show the child how well they are doing achieving x and to help them remember to do x, but not as a reward in itself. ie look how well you are doing using the potty! You've done 3 wees on it today! Well done!

MiaowTheCat Thu 06-Apr-17 09:34:03

They work for my two - the eldest has one with a few things on it that were starting to slip of late behaviour wise that I can change if required and it's knocked them back right on the head, meaning her younger sibling isn't getting the chance to copy them at all either.

The youngest one has one to consolidate her toilet training as it's not 100% secure yet.

Yes they get a reward if they get all their stars (or so many of them) in a week - but my eldest at least likes just getting to pick sparkly stickers to put on the star chart quite a bit as well. She likes seeing how many she's got through the week and working out how many she needs to get and what the soonest point is that she can get her reward.

It's MN though so all kids should be angelic without any signposting and just a nice chat and a bit of love bombing.... doesn't really work like that with my kids.

JassyRadlett Thu 06-Apr-17 09:41:42

we have logical consequences.

I am intrigued by the difference between logical consequences and punishments.

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