Token Economy


The best way to streamline the behavior of a kid – Token Economy

Token economy programs & behavior therapies Token economy systems as a measure to control the behavior kids first became popular in 1985. Today token economy systems rank among the practices that many parents have used to streamline the behaviors of their kids. In addition, they have also helped parents instill specific behaviors in their kids in preparation for the challenges of life in their futures.

Token economy programs enable a kid to “earn currency” instantly. The kid can trade the currency for several kinds of reward after sometimes. Through this, a parent is able to direct the kid’s behavior to more desirable traits.

Token economy programs can easily be implemented at school or at home, enhancing existing incentive programs. They can sometimes be easy to implement as well as effective, but sometimes it can be expensive and time-consuming. Whenever you are implementing them, you should never deprive a kid of his or her basic needs such as food, shelter, playing etc.

How do you select target behaviors?

For the token economy rewards to work effectively, a parent must decide on certain specific behaviors that he or she wants to instill in the child. Choosing just one or two precise behaviors to focus on at a time will give the parent a greater chance at succeeding, thus ensure the success of the entire program.

Once you are sure that a kid has mastered the target skill, you can move on and choose the next behavior to modify. A special tip for parents is never pick too many behaviors for your child to modify at one time, since this may lead to frustration that ultimately results in friction between parent and child. In addition to the above tip, you should be concise and clear by giving your child comprehensive rules as well as consequences for them on failure to observe the specific rules.

How do you choose the right type of token?

Many parents have spent thousands of dollars on tokens, forgetting that there are cheaper methods that they can use and still be able to achieve their mission. Here are the tips:

First and most common is to “earn currency”. This is the most common method. Remember you do not have to use high valued tokens worth thousands of dollars to enable the program to be successful. You can use tokens valued as low as a few cents and you will still successfully implement the program.

Secondly, you can use numerous inexpensive rewards. These include:

  • 1. Having a friend to sleep over in your home under the permission of the friend’s parents
  • 2. Renting a movie
  • 3. Staying up late especially on the weekend
  • 4. Going out together for ice cream
  • 5. Buying a special toy or item your kid wants
  • 6. Cooking a special meal of your kid’s choice
  • 7. Bonus time with Mum or Dad (eg a special outing, playing a board game together, etc)
  • 8. They get to sleep in one morning!
  • 9. They get a day off their normal chores
  • 10. Their choice of activity for the next family outing (set some boundaries for this one!!!)

Thirdly, be sure to praise your child genuinely as you are giving them their tokens. Your genuine appreciation and specific praise will go a long way to support the success of the token economy program you have chosen.

How do you successfully conclude the program?

Every parent needs to determine the number of tokens a kid must earn for him or her to exchange the tokens in order to get the reward. Moreover, the parent must also be consistent with the specific goals and clear when to conclude the token economy program once the behavior is fully implemented in the kid’s life. The parent may choose to finish using the system all together for a time, or they might choose to move their focus to modifying the next behavior. This needs to be done wisely and with clear discussion with the child so they feel empowered and encouraged by the change.

Continuing with verbal praise long after the token economy program is concluded will ensure the behaviors continue to improve. Every child likes to know they have approval from their parents, and genuine praise and warm hugs can often be worth far more than any tokens and rewards.

With the implementation of the above token economy program, you will not only change the behavior of your kids but also raise responsible adults for a stronger society in the future.

Find more information here: Kids making change | Token economy ideas Wikipedia | Skinner invented the operant conditioning chamber, also known as the Skinner Box  | For a definition go to here