Reward Charts Alternative

Reward Charts – Do They Work For You?

Some kids respond to a Reward Chart well. Others don’t. Sometimes the reason Reward Charts don’t work at all can be linked to underlying issues. I know for my child it’s important for discipline and reward systems to be very basic. If there are grey areas or the chart is too complex, things unfold into chaos.

Reward charts seem to fail in my home if the task at hand makes my child seriously anxious. For example, I have a daughter who gets extremely upset about trying new foods. She doesn’t just cry. She becomes shaky, pale and overwhelmed. Clearly anxious about trying something new.


Then you have my son. He has a post-cancer brain injury and suffers severe anxiety from the whole ordeal. Going to the shops and going to school are the two major anxiety problems in the home.

Now imagine as an adult your extremely stressed in your job. There’s a lot of pressure on you to complete certain tasks that you are not 100% trained in yet and your confidence isn’t exactly high. Your boss comes in and sticks a giant rewards chart on the wall and says your expected to get 100% satisfaction every day of the week. Any mess ups and you’re fired.

When you get to work that chart is staring at you. While you’re working. While you’re at lunch. It’s always there reminding you how awesome you have to be.  You start to think things like “Maybe I’m not cut out for this job” or “What happens if just one day I get sick or something stops me from even getting to work” quickly followed by “I’m doomed”.

It seem’s you skipped the proper training to be able to deal with this Reward Chart, which almost sets you up for failure.

This is what I experience with some reward charts. Worst case scenario the reward chart gets destroyed or tears begging me to just tick all the days off. My son doesn’t even want the reward. He just wants it ticked off so he can stop feeling stop feeling so stressed about it.

This week I have tried something new. A “Reward Puzzle”. There are no days or tick boxes listed on the reward puzzle. There are 5 pieces of the Puzzle representing 5 days of school and If he gets all 5 pieces by the end of the school week (1 per day) the puzzle will create a giant movie ticket to “Batman VS Superman”.

This was received well. It isn’t stuck up on the wall or the fridge staring at him all the time. It is taped to the top of his draws. He will only see it if he wants to look at it.



Ryan now has TWO FOUR  ALL FIVE Pieces of his puzzle done with no hiccups! This is a first in any reward chart method I have used!


  1. This is a great idea! My 3 yo needs some kind of structure, but can’t read and is, well, 3. His job is to clean up his toys in the evenings and in doing so, he is earning My Little Ponies figures (his current obsession). I think I’ll take a picture of the pony he is working to earn and print it on magnetic paper before I cut it into pieces and stick it to the fridge. I don’t think seeing it will stress him out, but it sure will be a lot more rewarding than stickers in a line on a chart he can’t read. Didn’t mean to write a book here, but I am really excited about this idea!! Thank you for sharing!!

    1. Hi Hannah, Just to update you. This actually worked!!! We have 1x Piece to go.
      My son hasn’t completed a full school week without being sent home or having an out of control meltdown for months. Obviously his situation is complex (A.B.I. and PDD ASD) but it just goes to show the basic reasons and principles behind the chart change were correct.

      I believe with kids that are a huge handful you need to change things up. They get bored. They think…..meh….thats what we did last time….When often were pushed by “experts” to keep the same mundane consistent reward charts. Would that keep you excited as an adult? Of course not 🙂

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