As your child nears the end of his toddler years, you can begin to introduce simple reward charts to help reinforce positive behavior. However, for your toddler to make the connection between the crime and the consequence, discipline must come swiftly in response to negative behaviors, so keeping track of bad behavior and doling out consequences at the end of the day is likely to prove ineffective. Instead, act quickly and calmly to correct negative behaviors with short time-outs if necessary, and keep track of all the good things your toddler does on his reward chart.
Draw the rows and columns for the chart on a whiteboard. Determine whether you would like to offer a reward on a daily or weekly basis. If you would like to provide daily rewards, divide the chart into three sections; one for positive behaviors; one for negative behaviors and one for the reward options for your toddler. If you’d like to reward your toddler weekly, make seven columns for the days of the week, one larger column for negative behaviors and a single, large row on the bottom for rewards.
Cut out pictures from magazines of children demonstrating the positive behaviors you’d like to reward. Since your toddler can’t read yet, using words makes the chart less meaningful for him. Glue the pictures onto sturdy backings made from poster board or card stock, and then glue the pictures onto magnets.
Draw one picture, such as a flower or car, for each positive behavior you would like your toddler to exhibit before she receives a reward. Explain to your toddler that she must cover each picture with a magnet before she receives a reward. Since your toddler might not be able to count, using this visual method of covering up pictures helps your toddler keep track.
Fill the column for the behaviors you’d like your toddler to avoid. Find pictures of the actions, such as a child taking a toy away from another or throwing a temper tantrum in the store. Talk to your toddler about these behaviors and post the pictures in the column. Now your toddler has a visual reminder of the actions to avoid and you can remind him about the pictures any time the behavior arises.
Draw pictures of the rewards onto the reward section of the chart. You can use an extra storybook at bedtime or 15 minutes of extra playtime, but try not to use food as rewards to avoid your toddler making the connection between food and reward. The association can continue throughout childhood and later on in life.
Post the reward chart on the kitchen fridge and arrange the positive behavior magnets above or beside the chart. Now, every time your toddler demonstrates those good behaviors, you can help her transfer a magnet onto the chart.
Items you will need
- Poster board or card stock
- Craft glue
- If you can’t find pictures for the chart, use a star or happy face system instead. Just draw either one on the chart every time your child demonstrates a positive behavior. Add up the stars at the end of the day and talk to your toddler about the good things she has done.
- If you don’t have a whiteboard, you can use ordinary paper instead. Attach the paper to the kitchen fridge when you’re finished and now the picture magnets will stick to the chart.
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