Charting and Reinforcing Behaviors

Editor's Note: The following article has suggestions for working with students with behavior problems, but the ideas are easily modified for any student.
  1. The Daily and Weekly Point Sheet chart can be used to track progress. These charts can be modified to fit the individual child and/or teacher's needs.
  2. At the end of each month, a photocopy of the Weekly chart is made for the teacher's records. Students are then permitted to take their copy home. Some parents like to use these charts along with the daily point sheets to help motivate the students with rewards at home.
  3. Parents must be reminded to accentuate the positive. Periodically remind them that the point sheets and monthly charts are tools of communication. Help them see that even though a student may have low points for a particular day, he or she still may have made good choices.


The following list of reinforcers is only a start. Ask the students what they want to earn. Be observant to detect their least favorite activities. For the plan to work, there must be things students want to avoid as well as things they want to earn.

Primary reinforcers include food items and drinks. These work best with younger students and with any age when stress factors are high. Permission from parents is sometimes needed. Primary reinforcers might include the following:
  • Candy
  • Juice
  • Fruit
  • Crackers
  • Soda
  • Cookies
  • Cake
  • Pizza
  • Chips
  • Pretzels
  • Ice cream
  • Marshmallows
Secondary reinforcers include tangible items. It is wise to discuss in advance with the students what items they prefer to avoid purchasing too much. Free samples and donations are often available. Some suggested secondary reinforcers are:
  • Posters
  • Erasers
  • Cars
  • Dolls
  • Notebooks
  • Sports cards
  • Visors
  • Bubble bath
  • Nail polish
  • Stickers
  • Pens
  • Jewelry
  • Sunglasses
  • Caps
  • Pencils
  • Games
  • Markers
  • Clothing
  • Cologne
  • Silly straws
Social reinforcers are the highest level of reinforcement. It is not recommended that groups begin earning these at first unless adult supervision is always available. The students will be earning time and the right to use whatever materials are necessary. Points can be paid by the minute. For instance, 1 minute of Nintendo time could equal 5 points. The student would need 50 points in order to buy 10 minutes of playing time. Completing school work may also need to be a prerequisite to playing. Some suggested social reinforcers include:
  • Painting
  • Models
  • Coloring
  • Clay
  • Playing outside
  • Game time
  • Computer
  • Library
  • Films
  • Listening to tapes or records
  • Visiting another classroom
  • Helping in the office

Excerpted from Tough to Reach, Tough to Teach.

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