Spectrummy Mummy

Asperger's, Allergies, and Adventures Abroad

The Reward Chart

with 20 comments

I promised an update on what happened with the reward chart, so here it is.  Hopefully this will help anyone else wanting to give this a try.

This was the chart I bought.  It comes with some ready made chores and various circle tokens.  There are also rectangle tokens for completion, and some blank ones to make your own chores too.  The first important thing was positioning.  Pudding would just play with (and lose) the magnets, so I put it up high where she couldn’t reach.  I took on board the suggestion of having a picture of the object she is working for, and found a picture of Abby and taped it up on the wall.  I’d managed to find a smaller and cheaper Abby doll than the one she initially fell for to use as her reward.  For the first trial, I didn’t want her to have to wait too long, so I gave just three chores, and only five days to earn them.  I only put things on there that I was certain she is capable of, so I opted for the following:

  • Get ready for bed (we’d still help with brushing teeth and bath, just taking off her clothes and putting on nightgown)
  • Get Dressed (I’d lay the outfit ready for her, no buttons or zips to contend with)
  • Say Please and Thank You (she is pretty polite, so thought this would be an easy one for her)

After the first day, I realized where I’d gone wrong.  The problem lies with the last one.  In many ways the reward chart is like a mini IEP with goals.  Those goals have to be measurable.  Getting dressed and undressed is pretty obvious.  Please and Thank You, however, get tricky.  Do I demand that she says them without prompting for every request?  Do I just require 50 % compliance.  There is another thing too.  She is a polite kid, especially when she very much desires the item.  So what happens if she asks for something I don’t want to give her (say, a cookie before dinner) and she asks very politely?  And she asks over, and over again (say, every night).  Still politely, but kind of a ceaseless polite whine, even when I’ve said no.  I don’t need to encourage that.

Given that we were just trying to make this as easy and fruitful as possible in the beginning, I just awarded the token for any saying Please and Thank You at least once in any given day.

The other two goals were much simpler.  She gets dressed fine at the weekends when she is going somewhere she wants, but it has become a chore to get her to do it in the morning before school.  Likewise, getting ready for bed signals the end of the day, and that comes with battles when she doesn’t want that to happen.  The reward chart works great here.  I still have to nag remind her that she needs to do it for a token, but the token does appear motivating enough on most days to get her to do it.  Success.

Every single day she asked me for the Abby sticker (the picture I taped to the wall).  Perhaps because our previously unsuccessful attempts at reward charts had involved stickers, she thought that was going to be the prize.  I gave it to her, of course, when she completed her goals, but the smile on her face when she finally got the Abby doll was worth it.  You can see that she is clutching the picture in the other hand.

Ultimately, the first trial was successful.  The chart directly led to increased independence with getting dressed, and also cut out battles over what she would wear that day.  It introduced the concept of waiting for a reward, and having to work for it.  I learned what works and what doesn’t, and shifted the responsibility for some self-care over to her.  For a girl in an ABA based classroom, it was nice to see that she is capable of delayed gratification of rewards.  After several more trials, I’m hoping to introduce a kind of pyramid reward scheme, where she can choose to cash in her tokens for a smaller reward, or save them to get something bigger.  Deferred gratification is a tall order for an impulsive kid like Pudding, but an essential lesson nonetheless.

The second attempt, that was more interesting.  I’ll tell you about that next time.

Written by Spectrummy Mummy

April 18, 2011 at 6:58 am

20 Responses

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  1. That’s fabulous!
    Way to go Pudding!

    Fi -From the Madhouse-

    April 18, 2011 at 7:28 am

  2. that’s terrific! and gives me some hope. Charts have just never worked for us – the delayed gratification thing and all that. But…we haven’t done it in a while, AND I don’t think we ever did it right, as in tailored for my son. We did it in the way it worked for his older brother.
    So maybe we’ll do it again…


    April 18, 2011 at 7:44 am

    • Yeah, I think the timing was right for us, and we had also used charts the wrong way before too. Give it a try- for some hot wheels!

      Spectrummy Mummy

      April 18, 2011 at 4:05 pm

  3. Great Job Mommy and Pudding!!


    April 18, 2011 at 8:30 am

  4. I’m a big fan of these little charts. They’ve worked wonders for me with all kinds of kids in my classroom and to some extent as well at home with my older children. I certainly will be an adventure when my littlest wonder is developmentally aware enough to be able to employ this strategy with him. I think that he will really eat it up when he’s ready. Thank you for sharing.

    Aimee Velazquez

    April 18, 2011 at 8:32 am

  5. I have made the same mistake when I did award charts–setting goals that were not measurable. Live and learn. My other problem was focusing on too many things. I like that you set just three goals–much easier on you and the child. My son was ready to flog me when I added so many things to his list. And he was right. It was unmanageable. Maybe I’ll try again and just add three goals for summer…..


    April 18, 2011 at 9:05 am

  6. You have inspired me to try again with our chart, I think just with 1 or 2 tasks. Simple seems to be better. Glad Pudding is having some success with her chart!


    April 18, 2011 at 11:02 am

    • I think simple and easy is definitely better, at least until the concept is down. Good luck with it- come back and let me know if it works!

      Spectrummy Mummy

      April 18, 2011 at 4:07 pm

  7. AWESOME!!! I love ABA, and i LOVEEEEE the reward system. However, for my son, he became SOOOOO dependant on it. To the point, where he would refuse to do anything unless he got something for it. (major manipulator) Or better yet, he’d have to wait so long for his reward that he no longer WANTED that reward. Most of the time, he holds no value on items. Now what we’ve done, is re-vamped the whole system. He works for money. You can use your money for whatever you want. Don’t have enough? Well, then you’re going to have to SAVE your money then. Of course my child is 16 so this helps a ton with saving/spending/money concepts etc.

    Rhonda Logan

    April 18, 2011 at 11:12 am

    • Oh yes, we have a manipulator here too, we called her the toddler used car salesman. At 2, she would say “potty for treat” and she wasn’t going unless she was rewarded!
      It is awesome you’ve found a way to teach money skills. Definitely useful when the kid is ready to understand. 🙂

      Spectrummy Mummy

      April 18, 2011 at 4:09 pm

  8. In my experience, reward charts can be fabulous tools, for any kind of kid. You definitely hit on one important aspect of how to make them successful– make sure the tasks are clearly defined and easily measurable. That said, having a “freebie” on there (such as requiring her to say please and thank you one time during the entire day, like you ended up doing) can be a great tool for motivating the kiddo– it doesn’t all need to be tasks that are a struggle to get done, and the kiddo will enjoy feeling like this is easy (and be motivated to show how “easy” the other tasks are as well, hopefully)!


    April 18, 2011 at 11:17 am

    • Oh yes, if she isn’t motivated, she isn’t doing anything! Thanks for your comment. 🙂

      Spectrummy Mummy

      April 18, 2011 at 4:11 pm

  9. We had a chart exactly like that and A did really well with it. It was tricky at first to get the goals correct…I always kept one on there and it was “give mom a kiss every morning. Sneaky, I know, but I get my kiss every morning…doesn’t matter if I ABA’ed him into doing it!!


    April 18, 2011 at 11:43 am

    • I’m lucky that I get kisses whenever I ask for them. But if I didn’t, you bet I’d be getting them any way I could find. Kisses are mama’s rewards!

      Spectrummy Mummy

      April 18, 2011 at 4:12 pm

  10. I adore the picture of Pudding clutching the Abby doll and the sticker (picture)!! She looks so happy. You executed this whole reward chart perfectly. You are such a good mummy! ABA uses the charts and rewards with my little one but I have not set it up at home. It’s funny though because he will actually tell me, “I want to work for the red car” at home when he could just play with it!! Silly boy. So, of course, I make him work for it (haha!) Lately, we’ve been practicing writing his letters – ooh such a struggle! 🙂


    April 18, 2011 at 7:14 pm

  11. This is great. Everybody won. And the best part is, it’s something to build on. Each time you have a success, you both get to carry that memory with you for the next challenge you face. Well done!


    April 23, 2011 at 3:40 pm

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