Motivate and Track Your Child’s Good Behavior with a Star Chart Tracker Sheet
I’d heard from other moms that using a star chart was helpful for motivating kids to do chores as well as potty train.
I also read a blog post in which a mother said that the one thing she wished she had been better at was getting her kids to do chores and be more responsible. She said if she could go back, she would try using more reward techniques to help them.
Thus, when my daughter turned 2, I started using star charts.
My Mom’s Star Chart
Growing up, my mom would track our good behavior on a chart that she hung in the living room. She would check off a box whenever we completed our chores. At the end of the month, all the kids who had filled up their charts got to go to McDonald’s for lunch.
I thought it was such a great idea and was excited for the chart!
Unfortunately, my mom only did one month before giving up on it. She ended up taking us all to McDonald’s even though some of us hadn’t completed our charts.
I wished she had continued with the chart and when I asked her why she stopped she said it was too hard to manage.
I didn’t understand what she meant but now, as a Sunday school teacher and a mom, I understand the challenges.
For example, in Sunday School, I feel bad when some of the students don’t get a reward while others do. Because of this, I would give all the students a small reward, but the students who achieved the highest points would get an extra reward.
For example, all the students would get recess if the whole class behaved well, but the top two students got to be captains of any games we played.
Using the Star Chart With a Toddler
With my daughter, when I started using a star chart, I struggled with getting her to understand what the purpose was.
She was only 2 years old at the time, so, I wasn’t surprised that she didn’t get it right away.
But even as she neared 3 years old, she wasn’t very motivated by the star chart.
To help her understand better, I decided to give her a series of stars in quick succession and reward her right away.
For example, I told her that all she needed was 5 stars to get a reward. Then I told her 5 things she could do right away to get the stars. These were: use the potty, put away your toys, take your sippy cup to the sink, sing the alphabet, and count to 25.
Once she got the 5 stars, I gave her a reward.
Increasing the Amount of Stars Needed for a Reward
I did the series of 5 stars in quick succession for a few days in a row. Once she started getting it, I changed the point of reward to 10 stars.
Every few days, I would raise the reward point until we reached 20 stars.
I tried not to go too long before giving her a reward because I didn’t want the reward point to seem so far away that she forgot about it. I also didn’t want her to feel like she was never going to reach it. That would certainly demotivate her.
At the same time, I didn’t want the reward point to be too fast that she was getting rewarded every day. This is because I wanted her to get a sense of working toward the reward.
Currently, a reward point at 20 stars is just the right amount for her. She completes the chart anywhere from 3 days to 2 weeks, depending on how much we focus on using it.
Tasks and Rewards for a Toddler
The best part though is that the chart works to motivate her to do things that at times have been a struggle, such as:
- Going to the potty by herself
- Washing her hands
- Brushing her teeth
- Saying her prayers
- Getting dressed by herself
- Putting away toys
- Making the bed
- Bringing dishes to the sink
- Letting me brush her hair
- Laying down for a nap or bedtime
- Complete a reading lesson
It’s also helpful when I need a little extra help such as grabbing diapers or a sippy cup for her younger brother.
We’ll also give her a star if we catch her doing something good like being nice to her brother or helping grandma.
In just the last few days, she has started to do many of these things without the use of stars.
But, as she matures, I hope to continue to use the chart to motivate her to do new chores. For example, when she’s old enough, she can help with cooking, doing the dishes, mopping, etc.
As for rewards, these are what have been effective in motivating her:
- Activity packs
- Sheet of stickers
- Small puzzles
- Surprise toys
- Small craft kits
I usually get the activity packs and puzzles from the dollar store. I pick up the other small toys and crafts when I see sales.
Makeshift Charts and Surprise Eggs
We had to move twice in the first half of the year and as a result, I lost track of my official star charts. Instead, my husband and I started tracking stars for my daughter on random pieces of scrap paper.
We just created a grid and made a circle at the point where she would get a reward.
She came up with the idea that the circle was a surprise egg and said that when she reached the egg then she could collect the prize.
We stuck the chart up on our whiteboard calendar so she could see it easily and be reminded about it.
A New Chart with a Little Woodland Creature
Now that we’re settling into the new house, I created a simple star chart to mimic what worked so well for us.
I added a few small extras to the chart such as a woodland animal, a space for a name, start date, end date, and a reward checkbox.
The start and end dates help me to know how long we are taking to complete the chart. This helps me to adjust the point of reward.
The reward checkbox is in case I find a completed chart and can’t remember if we’ve already given the reward.
I didn’t add the surprise egg circle. Instead, we still draw a circle wherever we want the reward point to be.
This printable is for printing on 8.5″ x 11″ paper and will print 4 charts per sheet of paper.
I like to print the charts on both sides of the paper so that, once cut, I can use each piece of paper twice.
You can download this printable file for free in my Free Resource Library if you are a subscriber. If you aren’t, sign up below and I will email you a link to download the card as well as the password to my library. You may download the card, save, and print as often as you like.
Seems like time is returning back to rewards. When I was raising my kids, they said do not reward your children. So, I didn’t. I’m glad I didn’t because the reward thing does become a part of who they are as they get older. They’ll want rewards for everything and won’t do the work if there’s no reward or if they don’t like the reward. This is why the dance competition and swim meets have rewards for every person (one generation probably demanded it and I remember not wanting to be like that…*cough* soccer moms *cough*). My kids don’t care for it. They just want to do their best and if their best doesn’t put them in the top 3, then that’s okay. I’ve collected tons of swim ribbons for every level that I just throw away (it’s a waste). Who cares for a ribbon for 20th place? Daughter just wants the ribbons for first, second, and third. She’d rather leave empty handed instead of getting rewarded for what she was supposed to do. What I’ve found that works is, know what’s important to your child. When they act out, tell them they can’t have/use that item until they do as you say. I can’t remember what it was when they were young, but as they got older, we used money. It’s worked really well. You know, I got a metal for my 5K run just for running (everyone who ran got one) and I have no idea what to do with it. It’s a waste. Trophies, metals, ribbons, etc. should only go to the real deal: top 3.
I’m impressed that you didn’t use rewards. It can be hard to get kids to do things! As for using rewards, there is a marketing technique based around gaming and rewards –it’s why Google review uses points and medals that ultimately, don’t really do anything (basically, you gain points for every review you give). The use of games as marketing/motivation comes from research that shows that people are just motivated by trying to achieve or win something. Honestly, star charts and point collecting are things that I had a hard time understanding because I don’t usually see the value in the rewards. Except that, I do remember when my mom did her star chart and how fun it was and how much I wished she kept it going. In terms of current trends, it actually seems like the trending parenting philosophy today is to not praise or reward kids. There are numerous articles and blog posts that recommend that parents hold back on giving praise and rewards so that kids don’t become reliant on it. I personally think that praise and rewards have been helpful for my own motivation. As a child, it’s natural to look to your parents and teachers for praise and reward, but as an adult, being able to praise and reward myself has been an effective self-motivating technique.
Sounds like we just grew up differently. Mom and dad taught me that you don’t get rewarded. You just do what you are supposed to do and don’t expect anything. This training helped with my last job. I think the reward thing is a tool in business because it was always about rewards (but it didn’t bother me ’cause I didn’t care either way). I also think kids have a mind of their own and will decide what’s right for them when they’re older. It’s more so the parent’s who are snowplow or helicopter type that really do the damage on their kids.
I think we are all motivated by some sort of reward whether we realize it or not. Sometimes that reward is from the satisfaction of just doing what you are supposed to do. I think that is what is behind the trending philosophy of not rewarding or praising kids today –it’s so that kids will learn to feel good from doing good things and not from a separate prize.
In Sunday School, I didn’t start using rewards to motivate the kids until I noticed that another teacher used a point system on his students and it was very effective. Where I struggled to get students to stay in their seats, he could say “You lose points for getting out of your seat”, and it worked! Not only that, but his students loved the point system and always seemed excited about his class. Like I said, I didn’t really understand why –why would kids be motivated by collecting points? They don’t mean anything. And the rewards are usually small and also not all that valuable. But maybe points just add a fun element to doing things. I’m not a gamer, but Paul is, and he tells me all the time that games are just fun. So at the very least, I think star charts and points systems just help to make things more fun. Eventually though, as I’ve noticed with the kids, they start to do the chores and tasks on their own without thinking about the star chart.
But, I think it’s fine when parents decide not to use star charts or a point system. The idea of teaching your child to do things for the sake of doing them and not for a reward or praise is valid. I’m sure parents who choose not to use a points or stars reward technique will find other ways of motivating their kids, just as you mentioned, that money has been effective for you and your kids.