Psychology of Parenting
Token Economy, Chore Chart, and Behavior Chart

Token Economy, Chore Chart, and Behavior Chart

Is using a behaviour chart to change a childrens behaviour effective? Should parents use a chore schedule or pay their kids to help out around the house? In this post, we’ll look at research that can help us answer these concerns and figure out how to get kids to behave better.

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What Is A Behaviour Chart

A behaviour chart is a type of positive reinforcement used to encourage children to adopt a new behaviour. Whenever the child carries out a desired behaviour, a point, a sticker or a token is rewarded. When the child has saved up a A behaviour chart is a kind of positive reinforcement that is used to help childrens to learn new skills. A point, a sticker, or a token is given to the kid whenever he or she performs a desirable action. When the kid has accumulated a certain amount of points, they can be traded for a gift such as a toy, extra allowance, or an extension of sleep.

Behaviour charts and sticker charts are frequently utilized by parents at home and by instructors in classrooms (in schools, they’re generally referred to as “token economy systems” 1 ).

It’s easy to use a behaviour chart to help your child improve (growth mindset) his or her behaviour.

Have you ever shared an ice cream cone with your sister? Three points have been awarded to you.

Have you completed your assignment on time? You’ve earned a gold star.

Giving out points and stars to promote good behaviour is simple, and the benefits are practically instantaneous.

The amount of yelling, nagging, and fighting is significantly decreased.

Children like working for the rewards, and parents appreciate the seeming efficacy.

So, should you put it to use?

What we choose to do, like so many other aspects of parenting, may have a significant, and often unforeseen, influence on our children.

When we reward children for changing their behaviour, we are effectively encouraging them to behave in the way we desire.

Children will gladly cooperate because they want to get a gift, not because they want to be good.

Children’s behaviour charts are effective, but only in the short term.

We lose sight of the values and lesson we are instilling in our children, which is:

We only act when we stand to gain anything from it.

Chore Charts

A chore chart is a sort of behaviour chart that focuses on getting kids to undertake tasks around the house. For good behaviour, children are frequently given privileges or allowances.

Children learn to be responsible by taking on certain responsibilities, according to common opinion.

While no research has been found to support this hypothesis, numerous studies have discovered detrimental side effects of employing external incentives to persuade children to perform chores.

In one study, children waiting for storey time were invited to assist in the creation of paper toys for some poor, sick children in the hospital who had nothing to do while they were sick 2.

Some were promised a reward for their assistance, while others were not.

When the researcher went to collect the narrative video, they were informed they could either “assist the children in the hospital some more” or “play with some other games.”

For this time period, no awards were awarded. Children can choose to do so on their own.

Children who were given a prize at the start created fewer toys in the first session and were less inclined to continue producing toys in the second phase when no additional rewards were offered, according to the findings.

This isn’t unexpected at all, given that identical studies have been repeated several times in various situations, demonstrating that external rewards can detract from internal drive and job quality.

What’s more unexpected is that when childrens were paid for doing duties around the house, they were less willing to assist in manufacture more toys when given the option.

In fact, the more often moms utilized external prizes to urge their children at home, the less likely they were to participate in the trial.

As a result, employing prizes to drive childrens undermines not just their natural motivation to complete a job, but also their compassion.

Token Economy

Token economy systems are widely utilized, and they are mostly employed with captive, dependent populations such as mental patients or schoolchildren.

Many studies have shown how effective they are right away.

Some even discovered that the better behaviour persisted when the rewards were taken away.

However, the first comprehensive assessment of token economy studies, published in 1972, found the opposite:

Generally, removal of token reinforcement results in decrements in desirable responses and a return to baseline or near-baseline levels of performance

To put it another way, when the benefits end, people, revert to their previous behaviour.

After eliminating dependent incentives from the classroom, some students’ interest in the specific behaviour drops even lower than it was before the practice began.

By bribing children to adopt a particular behaviour, we are implying that the behaviour is fundamentally undesirable, else we wouldn’t need to pay them.

When we use a token system, we not only demotivate childrens to naturally adapt to the new behaviour when the tokens are removed, but we also unwittingly cause additional issues.

For example, in one after-school programme, children are rewarded with points for exemplary classroom behaviour or test success. Points are totalled at the conclusion of each week, and the student with the most points gets to choose a gift from a pile. The student with the next highest point total can then select, and so on until everyone has received a gift.

It appears to be a win-win scenario because the students will be driven to do well and will all receive a gift. As a result, no one is left out.

Is that true, though?

Here’s what the kids had to say.

When a first-grader receives more points than her peers, her peers are disappointed, making this girl feel bad for disappointing her peers. Some of her classmates teased her when she earned fewer points than the others. “I have more points than you,” especially for younger children, could be quite hurtful.

As a result, this basic token economy not only has a dubious impact on learning but also causes a great deal of social friction among children, particularly the more sensitive ones.

In school, deducting points from a childrens behaviour chart for misbehaviour might equate to public humiliation in front of the entire class.

Behaviour Chart Alternatives

So, if we can’t rely on behaviour charts, what should parents do?

We should, however, inspire children in the proper manner, or as some refer to it, the difficult manner.

Why is it so difficult?

Because it necessitates the investment of time, effort, and patience.

There are no immediate gratifications for parents since it is not immediate.

Isn’t it true that we want our children to acquire patience and persistence as well?

What better approach to teaching children than by demonstrating patience and persistence through our own teaching?

It might be difficult for some parents because they believe their children are simply too obstinate or strong-willed to learn how to behave.

But, for example, consider the math.

Complete you anticipate third graders to be able to do calculus since they know how to do addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division?

Is that correct?

Mastering higher math abilities involve time, effort, and ongoing study.

They won’t be able to learn calculus straight away just because they know basic math procedures.

The same is true when it comes to children’s behaviour.

Just though children understand the majority of our words and can comply with some of our demands does not mean they have complete impulse control or comprehend the meaning of all behavioural expectations.

In fact, the portion of their brains that makes decisions does not fully develop until they are in their mid-twenties.

As a result, expecting them to act properly at the age of ten is unrealistic!

Here are a few tried-and-true methods for teaching childrens how to behave without resorting to bribery or punishment (fear conditioning).


Explain why we should behave or do tasks based on two essential concepts.

Don’t do anything to others that you wouldn’t want to be done to you.

This is a simple one to explain.

E.g. No one wants to be kicked, therefore we don’t kick.

We are a family, thus we have chores. We all look out for one another and assist each other out in a family.

We all do things for others, such as cook for everyone, take the kids to school, and drive them to play dates, among other things.

What would happen to the family if we simply cared about ourselves and didn’t support each other?

Will you be able to take care of yourself when you grow up and live on your own if you don’t learn to do these things now?

Using Positive Discipline

Mutual respect and good directions are the foundations of positive discipline. Children are encouraged to replace bad behaviour with acceptable behaviour by concentrating on the positive.

Discipline refers to the act of teaching rather than the act of punishing. When we carefully teach our children correct behaviour, we are establishing in them the ideals of good behaviour rather than bribery.

Model Respect

When we chastise or lecture our children, they don’t hear us. They also have a poor reaction to punishment (fear conditioning). They do, however, observe what we do. We are demonstrating how to act respectfully by respecting everyone, even the children.

Behaviour Charts – Will You Use One

Parenting is difficult. In our extensive list of parental responsibilities, a behaviour chart and chore chart seems like a welcome addition. Taking shortcuts, on the other hand, will only harm our children. It’s priceless to learn the proper values.

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