Reward system – Stickers, do they work?
Parents are always looking for ways to encourage their child to speak to new people. Most families are already working with a therapist in the office or classroom. However, parents should not stop there. They should be consistent in encouraging their child to speak in all environments when going to restaurants, department stores or talking to neighbors, etc. Positive reinforcement is always a good way to encourage the child to speak in all settings. One way to track the child’s progress is by using sticker charts.
A sticker chart is a simple method where the child receives a sticker for speaking that day (even if it’s only a one word response like yes or no). At the end of the week they tally their total number of stickers and earn a small gift depending on the number of stickers earned. For example 5 stickers = hot wheels car or hair accessory for the girls, 7 stickers = trip to the movies, 10 stickers = lunch at McDonalds, 12 stickers = purchase of a movie, 15 stickers = one hour at the mall alone with Mom (no other siblings on this trip), 25 stickers = purchase of a game or toy. You can make the rewards whatever you want as you personalize this to your child’s favorite things.
The sticker chart works well not only to reward the child to speak for that day but to encourage them to talk in a louder voice. After the child begins to speak comfortably and the charts are no longer necessary you may want to provide rewards every 3-4 months for continued talking. The occasional gift might consist of a much-wanted game or toy or a simple gift bag of several small items, like M&M candy, markers, books, etc. This is a nice gesture to let them know they are doing a great job. Kids love this!