Using Positive Incentives to Change Kids’ Behavior

I feel like I’m always saying “No,” and becoming such a nag. Aren’t there other ways of changing behavior? MOLLY: I think one thing that you suggested for us that’s been helpful for the tantrums was the sticker chart.

MOLLY: We put a list that includes please and thank you, no tantrums, good table manners… and it’s all positive reinforcement. So every time my daughter does it –or rather doesn’t do it (in other words, refrains from having a tantrum..)–  she gets to put a sticker on the chart. Then after 5 stickers accumulate for the same thing, she gets to go to the bookstore and pick out a little paperback book.

MOM: I think it works extraordinary well with kids. Not so well with grown ups, but it works really well with kids.

MOLLY: At what age do you think you can start a sticker chart?

MOM: Well, I don’t know exactly, but I would say in the threes. You put the chart at eye level so the child can see it, and you explain what you’re doing very clearly. Then you have the child put the stickers on it. The first time around it will all be brand new to a kid, but usually they catch on pretty rapidly.

MOLLY: I like our bookstore reward because it’s not about toys.

MOM: Right, you’re not going to promise the child a big thing, just a little treat.

MOLLY: And the whole bookstore thing is an adventure for kids.

MOM: So it’s a win-win for everyone.


MOM:  Dr. Susan Rutherford is a Clinical Psychologist who has been in practice for over 30 years. She has her undergraduate degree from Duke University, a Masters from New York University (NYU), and a Doctorate in Psychology from the University of Denver. MOLLY: Molly is Dr. Rutherford’s younger daughter and the mother of two children under six.

This blog is about raising kids and how our parenting decisions now can have long term effects.

Experience this? Comment below if you’ve had success changing your child’s behavior using other strategies. Or Contact US if you have other parenting questions you’d like to see addressed.

This entry was posted in Ages: 10 – 14 yrs, Ages: 3 – 5 yrs, Ages: 6 – 9 yrs, Behavior Issues, Discipline and tagged behavior charts, behavior in kids, change child behavior, children and behavior, disciplining children by Molly Skyar. Bookmark the permalink. « PREVIOUS « How Can I Help My Kid Feel Okay After a Hospital Visit?

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