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Rewards pave the way for development

Updated: May 28, 2023

Kids find rewards charts engaging, motivating and rewarding. It won't always be smooth sailing but if you maintain consistency and reward your child as soon as they have finished the chart, you will have a willing participant in all you are working on.

Skill development is also possible when you combine it with a reward chart. Use rewards for brushing their teeth, trying new food, brushing hair, sitting in a trolley, sitting on the toilet, the opportunities are endless.

Start small. If your child has sensory issues, and let's face it most do, start with a single brush of the hair, teeth and give them a token. Sitting on the toilet, show them a photo of themselves already doing it (and smiling if you can) and it will help reinforce that they have done it before, they can do it again.

They key is to make each step easy for them to achieve, especially in the beginning. Once they see that they can achieve their goal, and get their prize, they will continue to push and drive their own learning curve.

This has the added benefit of seeing your child's confidence grow as they understand that they can try tricky things and do them. With each win, their pride grows and they will keep striving to do more.

The rewards should be something your child likes but doesn't always have access to. Remember you're setting the economy so it doesn't have to be a substantial reward. Many times a sticker or reward stamp will be worth more than its weight in gold.

Make your child's first few reward charts very easy for them to achieve. Once they understand how the rewards system works, you will be able to extend the difficulty or length of time between rewards but this should only happen once very few weeks.

I was attempting to teach our child to sit safely in a shopping trolley. It didn't work UNTIL I added rewards. Starting at 10 second increments, a token was given, with 5 tokens earned, the child received a sticker. With a stopwatch set at 10 seconds, and a congratulatory sticker and high 5 every 30 seconds, it was definitely a short shop but an extremely valuable one.

With our child covered in what looked like 100's of stickers, a small bag of groceries in hand, there were smiles all round as we left the shops. A first in our books but the biggest reward of all was our child became hooked on reward charts and whenever they were bought out she was an instant willing participant in trying to earn her prize.

The stickers continued for another week and then the 10 seconds was extended to 20 seconds, the following weeks, 30 seconds. Within a short period of time a sitting in the trolley only needed a few stickers for the whole trip.

Once your child has mastered just a few seconds, and does it consistently, start to slowly extend the time between rewards. If your child stops complying it may be because you have set the goal too high, so in this case, ease off and make it easy to achieve for them again, but try extending again in a few days' time.

When you structure your child's learning and bolster it with rewards, they will continue to push to achieve more and more.


* Start small

* Extend the duration or repetitions very very slowly every week or two

* If your child becomes unwilling or unable to achieve the steps, make them instantly easier again. Let me keep winning. Try again in a few days.

* Give them a congratulatory High 5

* Give them their reward them immediately


* Place an image of the reward your child will receive in the palm of the hand

* Place an image of what skill you are focusing on eg sitting in the trolley. It will add extra strength for your child if you have a photo of them do it (smiling if possible) so they can see they have already done it before, they can do it again.

If you have any questions about ASD TOOLS, I'd love to hear from you.

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