How to Use a Reward Chart to Teach My Child Obedience

Children respond well to positive enforcement as they are highly motivated by seeing the good fruits of their labors. By creating a reward chart, you can motivate your child to add or eliminate particular behaviors while maintaining a positive atmosphere in your home. You’ll see your child eager to attain her goals and add stickers or stamps to the reward chart without raising your voice or using punitive measures. Positive discipline just got a little easier.

Choose the areas of obedience you want to address with your child. Keeping her room clean, completing homework with a positive attitude or finishing chores without being reminded are appropriate goals for an elementary school-aged child. Alternately, you may decide to use the reward chart to eliminate unwanted behavior, such as talking back to mom and dad.

Create a colorful chart using poster board and markers. Use visual images to represent the behaviors you want your child to change. You might also want to include an image of the reward that your child is working to attain. Interactive charts that allow your child to add stickers, place stamps or connect dots will be more effective. Her interaction with the chart will help her take ownership of the changes she’s making. Place the chart in a highly visible location to serve as a constant reminder to your child of her goals and progress.

Explain the chart concept to your child. Tell her that each time she exhibits or refrains from a certain behavior, she will earn a sticker or stamp for the chart. When she receives a certain amount of stickers or stamps, she will earn a bigger reward. Provide her with stickers, stamps or markers to celebrate each small accomplishment.

Select a reward your child can earn by receiving a certain amount of stickers. Ask your child for her input, because she will be more motivated if she helps choose the reward. Some children like to choose a small toy from a grab bag or treasure chest 1. Other children want to do a special activity or go on an outing with their parents. Extra television and computer time are also appropriate rewards. Make sure you and your child agree to the prize and the amount of stickers or stamps that must be achieved to receive the reward.

Give your child a sticker to put on the chart every time you see her obeying. Use praise along with the sticker. If you are working with your child to eliminate negative behavior, give your child a sticker for each day she doesn’t participate in the targeted behavior.


The Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh recommends using the same reward chart for no longer than four weeks.