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Build Healthy Habits with a Reward Chart

The other day my friend Saimoni posted on his FaceBook story about his young son who learned how to climb out of his crib - his little cutie is a toddler who learned a cool new skill! In exasperation, he requested ideas to keep his son in the crib, otherwise, naptime would be futile. How many of us have been there? As parents, we count on nap time, so that our evenings don't end up in exhaustion, grumpiness, or even tantrums.


As I was thinking about his dilemma while brushing my teeth the other day (some of my best thinking time!), I remembered what we did for my daughter who had an attachment to sucking her thumb. It occurred to me - what this little guy needs is some motivation! I haven't met a kid yet that doesn't like a challenge!


It may be time to implement a reward chart. This works to motivate kids and grownups alike. Now before you start with, “But Dana, Hobby Lobby is closed, how can I create a reward chart?” or “I’m not creative like that!” Relax, I got you covered. I created a template for you! Click the picture below to download it!



Reward charts are a great tool to inspire and motivate people to develop new habits and create sustainable change. Reward charts reaffirm appropriate decision making; if you choose to stay in the crib you get a sticker if you decide to get out of the crib you do not get rewarded. You can use a reward chart for tracking tons of habit development or change for grownups too, like reading books, exercise challenges, you can even do a joint reward chart for distance learning motivation (for both kids and grownups). We used a reward chart to help my oldest daughter stop sucking her thumb!


Here’s how it works:

  1. Decide what action you are trying to motivate. For kids, it could be staying in bed, washing hands, or household tasks. For grownups, quitting coffee, plank challenge, getting 8 hours of sleep, etc.

  2. Decide what the reward will be. I recommend that the reward for completing the task each day be tons of praise - make a BIG DEAL out of putting the sticker on that chart! Let them see how proud you are of them and ask them how they feel about themselves after completing the task for that day. And if you are doing a challenge - give yourself tons of praise and check-in with yourself to enjoy how that accomplishment feels. You can also give toy rewards at 7, 14, 30 days depending on the circumstances. Avoid rewarding with junk or candy as this can create problems. In my experience, giving a little toy out of the Target $1 bin was super exciting. Since a lot of stores are closed now, get creative. Reward them with quality time - like painting each other’s nails, bake something together, or let them choose a special dinner you can make!

  3. Get your chart ready. Set up the duration and the mark the reward days. Get some stickers. Just use what you have around the house! Or, next time you go to Trader Joe’s ask them for some stickers -they always give us about 10 without even asking! If stickers aren’t available, use a marker or pen. Keep it simple. Now hang it up somewhere convenient. A central location could be helpful if you want the whole family involved in the daily celebrations.

  4. Start your challenge. Get excited, get the kids excited. And stick to it! What happens if the kids don’t make the right decision for that day? Simply say something like, “Today’s decision didn’t get you a sticker on the chart, let’s try again tomorrow.” Then see if they need help understanding their choices again. Grownups, what if you miss your challenge for the day? Give yourself a pep talk, don’t be too hard on yourself, and make a new decision to do better tomorrow.


This is such a great time to develop new habits with our kids and for ourselves. We have a special opportunity for a greater influence on our kids' future habits now that they are out of school and at home. And for us grownups, let's commit to coming out of this shelter-at-home ordeal better than when we entered into it!


Now, grab the printable PDF above and get started! I can’t wait to hear how these charts work for you. If you have any questions, comment below.


Grownups, if you are having a difficult time developing a new habit or making lasting change, I can help. I help people with mindset and habit/change development through my program Connect to Freedom. Connect to Freedom is a 6-week coaching program to help you change unhealthy habits and connect to your body’s innate ability to heal. Contact me for more information.


Did you implement a reward chart?

I'd love to see how it went! Post a photo on Instagram and tag me @primalwifehappylife and use the hashtag #primalwifehappylife so I can share too.


Dana Johnson

Wife, mom, believer in Christ, California native, certified primal health coach & doTERRA wellness advocate.

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Dana Johnson

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