Let's Hope This Works: Reward Chart

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by butterfly31972, Sep 17, 2009.

  1. The psychiatrist that we see for difficult child has taken a counselor into the practice. I am very excited about this as I felt funny that we were just giving my son medications which works wonders for him and was hoping to eventually get him into some type of counseling also.

    Well, we started with this guy and he has developed a reward system for my son. To be honest, I have really not done reward charts with him before. So this is new.

    There are 5 things that I would like for him to do. Hopefully you will not mind going over them with me. By the way, he is 6 yrs old.
    1. get dressed by himself-10 pts.
    2. make own bed (which involves spreading his blanket over the bed only and taking his stuffed animals off the floor and placing them on the bed)-5 pts.
    3. let the dog into the backyard in the morning (involves opening the back door and coaxing the dog out the door into the gated backyard)-5 pts.
    4. brush his teeth-5 pts.
    5. pick up the books in his room and put them on the bookshelf-5 pts.

    Then there are 3 behaviors I would like for him to stop.
    1. don't hit his brother-10 pts.
    2. stop arguing/tantruming in the car with mom and/or brother- 10 pts.
    3. stop anger/acting out in the morning- 10 pts.

    Then here are his rewards:
    1. extra playdate
    2. make a special trip ti Grandpapa's house to spend time with him alone with-out mom and brother
    3. go skating
    4. extra movie night with popcorn and m&m's
    5. stay up 30 minutes later on weekends
    6. 30 minutes extra on video games

    As I was telling him about the points system, he was covering his ears,finger shooting me, and basically making sure I knew he was ignoring me.

    So I am wondering if the reward chart should be used as a way for him to earn ANY video game time at all? In other words, should the 30 minutes of extra video time become 30 minutes of video time and be totally earned instead of something that he gets automatically? I have been letting him play after his homework and before dinner pretty regularly and I KNOW he will become more compliant if he knows that it is the only way he can play video games, but I do not want to be too harsh. I know. I know. That is the crux of our problem. I am too lenient.

    I guess more than anything I am confused about what an ADHD child can and cannot control. When he is on his medicine which lasts only throughout the school day which is 6 hours(even though it is a 12 hour dose), he is a dream.

    What do you think of the chart and should I make him earn video game time instead of just tacking on 30 extra minutes? I really need this to work!
    Thanks in advance.
  2. I forgot his rewards pts. They are :
    1.playdate 120 pts
    2. Grandpapa 180 pts
    3. skating 150 pts
    4. movie 100 pts
    5. stay up late 80 pts
    6. video game 80 pts

    I work on Monday and Wednesday nights so he can not play video games on those days since he goes with me so the 80 seems to be ok for the video games. He can easily earn that in two days or maybe I should lower it?
  3. flutterby

    flutterby Fly away!

    I would separate the tasks and behaviors instead of combining them into total points. Those are really 2 separate issues and it just has the potential to be a setup for failure. IOW, if he does one task, he gets 6 minutes of video game time; 2 tasks 12 minutes of video game time, etc.

    I would keep the behavior rewards separate, but I'll have to think on that one some more. Kids that age need a pretty immediate reward. They are going to lose interest in earning the points if the reward is far off, i.e., a week - which is a long time to a 6 year old.

    We never had any luck with these charts. It would help for a very short period of time, then difficult child would decide it wasn't worth the effort. I hope you have better luck.
  4. flutterby

    flutterby Fly away!

    Maybe with the behavior if you have mini-goals, as well. It looks like the most points for behavior he can get in a day is 30 points. So, at 30 points do a small reward that is immediate - pick a game to play, or an ice cream treat. Do that every 30 points, then when he accumulates the 100, 120, 150, 180 points, give those rewards.

    I just think a 6 year old is going to see that as too far off and feel like he's not going to be able to do it anyway, so why bother.
  5. Flutterby, I was feeling the same way. The points are too high. The counselor is the one who came up with these points and I am at a loss.

    He wanted me to give him video games like normal and ADD 30 minutes to the time. I am not sure if I should do that or make him earn ALL his video game time.

    Thank you for the idea of 30 pts to have a board game-I know he would love that. At the Y last night, he was banned from the Wii because of rudeness and disrespect. I am concerned he is on a downward spiral. But when he is on his medications, he is an angel. The mornings and evenings are difficult.
  6. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Most of our kids are "instant gratification" kids and don't do well with reward charts of any of those "typical" behavioral methods. Maybe your son will be different, but I'm not liking the method. I also think it's too much and too muddled. Behavioral mod works better on dogs than kids!!! I think most of us have had to learn a different way of parenting our "differently wired" children. There is a spiraling up/down affect with stimulants. My son took them...I never cared for their affect on him. For him, they made him mean and aggressive.

    I don't know what an ADHD child can or can't control but I'm thinking that probably more is going on than ADHD. Lots of disorders cause poor impulse control. Was your child exposed to drugs or drinking in utero? Has he been thoroughly evaluated? Has he ever seen a neuropsychologist? Adopted kids are more complicated to diagnose and maybe this therapist is not taking his early background into account, or maybe he doesn't know how to do it. My adopted son was drug/alcohol exposed in utero. He was harder to figure out than if these factors hadn't been part of the equation.

    Your son had the same issues mine did. I am wondering if he is actually on the high end of the autism spectrum in which case reward charts and medications won't work...he'd need interventions. My son was first diagnosed with ADHD/ODD, but we knew it was more. The drug exposure made him more vulnerable to Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD).

    Have you ever read "The Explosive Child?"

    Good luck!!!
    Last edited: Sep 17, 2009
  7. therese005us

    therese005us New Member

    I think you need to trial the reward system for at least a month. i agree with an immediate reward for every 30 points, at least initially.
    I am wondering what medication he is on, and whether you can give another dose in the afternoons until his behaviours settle more? When my DS was on Dex there was a second dose available for after school. He was older when we started on it, and I chose to give it only on the more difficult days and he was medication free for weekends and holidays mostly.
    just a thought....

    Good luck. I know some think it is going to fail, but I think you do need to try the advice of your counsellor to prove the success or failure of his idea. I hope it works for you.
    If you think the points are too high, then maybe negotiate with the counsellor for something more realistic, based on the same ideas..
  8. DaisyFace

    DaisyFace Love me...Love me not


    My child would never NEVER have been able to accomplish those tasks at age 6....and her explosive tantrumming was the result of her frustration at not being able to do things the way that she wanted. So if it were my difficult child we were talking about, that chart would do nothing but set her up for failure....

    Even at age 14, getting dressed is still a hassle because she has fits about her clothing all the time and wants to argue about what is appropriate to wear....and so by that chart's accounting, she would lose the ten points for getting dressed AND the ten points for not having a temper tantrum in the morning--which would frustrate her even more--surely leading to a temper tantrum in the car (which is minus another 10 points) and/or taking out her anger on her brother (minus 10 points).

    If your child is having trouble accomplishing these tasks and controlling his emotions--is it really because you have never offered him a sufficient reward for behaving? I would say probably not...

    So try the behavior chart as the therapist recommends--but DOCUMENT whether it has any impact on your child's behavior. Then when you return to the therapist you can either report that the chart gave your child the reward/punishment structure that he needed....OR you can report that faithfully following the chart system did not have an impact.

    Good luck! Let us know how it goes...

  9. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Ok.....here is my take on this.

    I hated reward charts because they were difficult with three kids but now with computers they would be a bit easier.

    I dont know that I would use points but I might use difficult child bucks. Take monopoly money and copy it but with your kids picture in the middle of it. He can earn chore bucks and behavior bucks. Each a different color maybe. I also would break them down extremely small at this age.

    For getting up and getting dressed...give him one chore buck and make that reward...say getting to pick out what he wants for breakfast from two cereals otherwise you pick. Or maybe he gets to pick poptarts if he does all three things you want him to do.

    If grandpa lives close by, then I think using him is great. Put a picture of him up and let the child put his bucks in a jar under grandpa's picture to show how close he is to getting to see grandpa. "See Johnny...only two bucks left until you go to grandpa's house!" But you better be ready to take him right when he wants to cash in those bucks or all heck will break loose.
  10. mstang67chic

    mstang67chic Going Green

    Reward charts never worked in my house either. Then again, my son was 9 when we got him (adopted out of foster care) and had a lot more going on than just ADHD. (Listen to me.....JUST ADHD....yeah....as if that's not enough! :tongue: )

    I agree with the documentation though. This is a way to show that you are willing to do what it takes (even if you KNOW it won't work) and can help the therapist better realize the extent of issues.

    I did notice something you said about difficult child's medication though. You mentioned that it wears off by the time he gets home from school. Is he only on one dose in the morning or does he take a booster dose at school? If he's only on the one dose in the am, you may want to talk to the psychiatrist about the booster dose. We had the same issue and while it would still wear off at home, it did seem to last a bit longer.
  11. graceupongrace

    graceupongrace New Member

    A couple of thoughts:

    Go ahead and try it, but don't be discouraged if it doesn't work. Many of our kids simply are wired differently, and do not respond to rewards the way a easy child would. I tried all kinds of reward systems when difficult child was younger and not one of them worked (and I used to design incentive programs for major corporations!). But the others are right; sometimes seeing what doesn't work helps you reach a better diagnosis and treatment.

    If you're going to try a reward chart at all, you might want to make it simpler. The system you're considering is awfully complicated for any 6-year-old, much less one with ADHD. Try focusing on one or two behaviors at a time.

    If the Vyvanse only lasts 6 hours, you may want to talk to the psychiatrist. It should last longer than that -- maybe not 12 hours, but at least 8-10. My difficult child takes it, and it has been much more effective and lasts way longer than other stimulants (e.g., Concerta) -- probably pretty close to 12 hours. That makes me think it may not be the right medication for your son. Just a mom opinion.

    God luck and hugs!
  12. lizanne2

    lizanne2 New Member

    I am thinking of my boy at age 6...and it does seem complicated and not very immediate. My son needed to see and feel his reward. lLike poker chips or paper money or something. And that had the benefit of 'turning them in' to get rewards.

    I will say this did not last for very long and didn't go over well with his non rewarded sibling.

    It did help to put the list on the wall (with pictures). Then it was not me asking, "check the chart". Are you done for this morning? Then we could be a team.

    Adding good behaviors was easier than eliminating bad behaviors. Charts did not work as well for that. Finally, i decided that you could not earn rewards if you were exhibiting bad behavior. But as I said, my son really didn't care too much about he extra things he earned...it didn't last long. The Special Education school found the same thing.
  13. Christy

    Christy New Member

    Sounds complicated or maybe it has something to do with my reading this so late at night, LOL! You may want to work on only one or two expectations at first and make it attainable pretty quickly so that he can gain a taste of success then slowly increase the expectations. My son did not due well with rewards charts, he would become furious when he did not earn a sticker and tear up the chart. Everything had to be immediate gratification.

    At any rate, it's worth a try. Good luck and keep us posted!
  14. klmno

    klmno Active Member

    My thoughts are fairly similar to the others'. I definitely think for a child that age, you need to give feedback and acknowledge good or bad behavior daily, at least once a day and you can't expect them to wait until they have 100 points if they only get 10 for one thing.

    The other thing is from experinece with my son which may or may not work for yours- the "rewards and consequences" approach never worked for my son. Now, he does get consequences for poor behavior or not doing what's expected but things worked a lot better when those consequences were taken out of the reward chart.

    For instance, instead of being punished for not doing chores, he got certain reward if chores were done and it was written that way- nothing was written in a negative way- just what his reward would be if he did it. The punishment was not getting the reward, but the reward would be something that is acceptable for a boy that does what is expected of him. This would be for things like going to bed on time, doing chores, etc. If he did something really bad- like leave home without permission (my son is older than yours), than that would require discipline. So, if your son sassed you, that would have nothing to do with his reward chart- that would be going to bed early or something like that- a punishment.

    The rewards chart we developed stemmed from the idea that IF my son did chores, followed his school/home schedule, etc., I wouldn't mind if he had a certain amount of time on the computer daily or got a certain amount of allowance weekly. At six, if my son had not lost priviledges for poor behavior that day and had finished his homework and chores (which weren't much at 6), then he could watch tv for a little while.

    Also, you might want to read The Explosive Child - I found the concept very helpful in dealing with my son.
  15. Hi ladies!

    Last night, he earned 10 points and I was careful not to point out all the points he could have gotten as opposed to what he actually got. I agree with you and feel that it may not be very effective. I will do it anyway but not show my son how successful or unsuccessful it is. Just use my own program with shorter reward times.

    I was very shocked to find that this counselor was not impressed with Ross Greene's book. I have read it and Kurchinky's (sp) book also about the Spirited Child. I am going to use those methods regardless of what he says. But I may have to find another counselor if this doesn't work. Ugh!

    I am going to try the monopoly money idea - thanks Janet! and give him rewards for doing chores not punish him for not doing chores like y'all have suggested.

    Midwest Mom, I am still waiting for an neuropsychologist evel to be done on my son.

    Thanks everyone for everything and I will be here more now that school is in and things are ramping up and behaviors are escalating. I will be a CD Hall of Famer eventually. LOL!
  16. navineja

    navineja New Member

    My girls also need the motivation of the instant gratification, but I want them to learn to wait as well. Therefore, I use a visual points system. They each have a clear plastic cup into which I put a penny for each point earned. (Marbles, poker chips, etc could be used instead of pennies.) This way they have a visual of how well they are doing. At the end of the day, the points (pennies) can be turned in for a small reward or they can be saved for a larger one later.
    As for the video game question, my opinion is that he could be allowed to use a certain number of points for the games (one point= 1 minute, for example). But all video game time has to be earned. If video games are what motivates him, then you could also offer bonus time for multiple good days (if he earns __ number of points for 2 days in a row, then 10 bonus minutes, 3 days in a row= 15 bonus minutes, etc).

  17. klmno

    klmno Active Member

    Most therapist's and sd people we worked with thought this was a load of bull, too, so I'm not surprised that you have had that exxperience. I think that's why the book is important, though- it is trying to tell us that what we instinctively think as parents sometimes and what we are being taught by others' in our society about how to treat our kids is not working- especially with our difficult child kids. I finally came to the conclusion that if I try a therapist's suggestion a couple of times and it is making my son worse, I am over-riding it with a parental decision even if that decision is only based on my gut feeling. LOL!

    It sounds like you are going about this in a good way. It didn't really work for my son until he was in middle school and wanted a regular set allowance- which I would not give him. I incorporated this system where he could earn it. But, they all march to their own drummer so if this works for your son that's great!
  18. Twinners

    Twinners New Member

    I think your rewards chart, as you have it now, may be a little too vague for your son to find any success with it. Unfortunately, if he does not find some success with it early on and be able build on that initial success each day, the rewards chart is going to be a bust and only create more problems for both of you because he's going to become frustrated and angry that he can't do what he thinks you expect from him in order to earn the rewards. That is how it has been in my experience anyway. I hope it works out much better for you!
  19. idohope

    idohope Member


    I am currently doing reward chart with 3 kids. It is time consuming and complicated. For difficult child I think it helps a bit. I have no illusion that points will make a difference to her if she about to or has launched, but I think it is helpful for laying out expectations clearly, without nagging, and does provide a motivation during good times.

    Some specifics suggested by our therapist:

    1) We started out with only earning points. Did that for a month or so and then added items for which points could be taken away. This provided a time for them to get rewards and buy into the system without discouragement

    2) we have a "good attitude" category. I can give the good attitude points at any time for any behavior that I like. Was extra helpful, nice to sibling, compromised on a choice...Good Attitude! My youngest loves to get good attitude and likes to award them to others. "difficult child did X for me..is that good attitude for her?"

    3) definitely keep it relatively simple. We initially focused on the one part of the day that was hardest and broke it down into steps and allocated points for each part.

    It was not easy at first. The chart did trigger multiple tantrums from difficult child and I wondered if it was more harm than good but it is an accepted part of the family routine now.

    Good Luck
  20. whatamess

    whatamess New Member

    Reward charts only worked for my well behaved child and she would have done it without the reward. For my difficult child it just increased the battles. I realize (after 8 years of reward charts) that he really can't control a lot of his behaviors and putting ultimatums on him only frustrated him more.