Picking up from my last post, where I discussed positive discipline and 1-2-3 Magic as a strategy to help improve compliance at home. This post, I will be explaining a new intervention called a Token Economy, which also looks to help improve the consistency of positive behaviors in your child.

A token economy involves rewarding children with a token or tokens when you see them engaging in certain positive behaviors (doing chores, finishing homework, and others). These tokens can be used in exchange for tangible rewards, privileges, or access to certain activities. These rewards can range from choosing the dinner menu for a night an extra 30 minutes of computer time, family game night, stickers, and others. The rewards you decide on should be put into three different tiers based on their value. As an example, a sticker should cost less for a child to purchase than a new video game.

This intervention is typically most effective when the child or children are involved with the formation of a token economy.  A discussion with your child about how the token economy works, what your expectations are, as well as the potential rewards they can earn, can help build interest. In the initial stages of the intervention, it is essential to reward your child with the tokens often when you see the behaviors you want. This early success can help build their confidence. As they get more accustomed, you can reduce the number of tokens you give them in a day or a week.

It may be tempting to try to punish a negative behavior by removing a token away from the child. I would highly recommend against this as this can cause a child to lose interest in the system. All in all, a token economy is a powerful intervention that encourages positive behaviors, provides a child to learn the value and importance of “money,” as well as other benefits. In my next post, I will discuss the rules behind tokens and the creation of the reward menu.