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Reward Charts – For whose benefit?

Reward Charts – For whose benefit?

Reward Charts

As a Mum to two daughters, I feel I have had more than my fair share of judgement for some of my parenting decisions. From my strict naptime routines, my extended breastfeeding, to the fact that my daughter is pretty diabolical when it comes to her food. I have been judged to the point of being angry & upset, to the point of feeling inadequate, and to the point where I almost don’t feel I can ask a question or voice an opinion for fear of the Perfect Mum Brigade telling me what I am doing wrong.

Today, however, I was judged and criticised on something that I quite frankly found to be bizarre.

I was judged for using a Reward Chart with my daughter.

So here’s the background. After an extended stay in hospital when I had my second daughter, my eldest got used to sleeping in my bed, or having Daddy close at night time. Once I returned home from hospital, this slightly turbulent time in her life had meant she had transitioned from sleeping through all night in her own bed to waking and then calling out for her Dad. She wasn’t in pain or ill, not distressed or upset, and was perfectly capable  of getting herself back to sleep, however she had learnt that Daddy was a relatively soft touch. As a result, it had got to the point where my other half was lying on her bedroom floor two or three nights a week, wandering off to her room at around 1.30 in the morning.

I decided to introduce a reward chart as a potentially fun way of breaking this habit, and as we will be wanting to reuse her cot bed for Neve in a few months time, I thought this would be a great opportunity to create the incentive of getting a “big girl bed” – a cabin bed to you and me.

I created the chart with 31 days – for every night she slept in her own bed all night on her own, she could move her photo a day forward on the chart, one step closer to the reward. For every night that Daddy had to sleep on her floor however, she would take a step backwards, delaying how soon she reached her goal. At the half way point, she has a treat from Toys R Us – (she had her eyes on a Children’s Watch like Ruby at preschool apparently!)

When we explained the idea to Erin, she absolutely loved it – she sat with Daddy and started looking at pictures of cabin beds on google. She was very excited by the prospect!!

Daddy has not slept on her floor since.

She grasped the concept straight away. We still go in if she cries out, and occasionally she will ask for a quick cuddle, but she returns to her bed and stays there until morning. One night I even heard her say “no Daddy you can’t stay on my floor or I won’t get to move on my chart!”

I am amazed at how well it has worked. She has learnt that in order to be rewarded, her behaviour has to change accordingly. Isn’t that a valuable lesson in life??

So why the drama you may ask? What is there to judge about that?


Apparently I am “undermining my child’s true feelings”, which are likely to be (in this total stranger’s opinion) a result of her feeling “unloved and underappreciated since the arrival of her sister” – (can I just add, this ‘Perfect Mother’ has just the one child).

I am, even worse than that, doing the chart for my ‘own selfish benefit and not for the needs of my child’.

To use a reward chart is ‘plain and simple bribery’, and doesn’t solve the problem.

I am not very often lost for words, but really??

  • At no point has my child been ignored or be made to feel second best to her sister.
  • Erin ENJOYS the reward chart – the first thing she says in the morning is – I need to go do the chart!”
  • The fact that Erin has not had a single night with Daddy on the floor since the chart was introduced tells me that she is not in any shape or form traumatised by the experience, if anything, she has simply broken a habit.
  • Bribery – well yes maybe, but reward charts have been used in a loose sense with children since time began – House points anyone??

So in response to the lady who decides to judge my parenting…

How about you ask my three year old what she thinks of the chart? How about you watch how happy she was when she picked out her treat at Toys R Us on Saturday? The trear which she will have earned by committing to a goal for the last 16 nights!!

Oh and when your child never comes home with Star of the Week at School because you “don’t believe in reward charts” – who’s child will be suffering then??


Some people really have too much time on their hands.








  1. Laura Beresford

    Sounds like you are doing a great job, no one knows your children like you do so should keep their noses out! ignore ‘Perfect Mum’ who obviously needs to criticise others to make herself feel good 🙁 I’ve used reward charts and plan to use them with my third child when it is potty training time.

  2. Amy

    Good for you. I think the chart is a great idea. Why do people feel the need to judge. They can do what they want with their children and let the rest of us get on with ours! X

  3. Cherry - The newby tribe

    Oh my goodness – I can’t believe someone thought it was OK to judge you at all but on reward charts? That’s utter madness!!! I can’t think of ANY parent I personally know who hasn’t, at one time or another, used some form of reward for their child. In fact, it is positively encouraged when you look at the Three Day Nanny stuff! We used a fairy door reward for my son when he was constantly crying out in the night for absolutely no reason – he just didn’t want to stay in his own bed. So each night he stayed there the fairy dropped off a tiny car at the fairy door. The point is – and this is experts talking, not me – that to help a child break a habit, be it sleeping in parents bed, using a dummy etc – you need to give them an incentive which is bigger than the attention of the parents! If any child was genuinely distressed, upset, ill etc – then the reward chart obviously wouldn’t work at that moment! Honestly – some people have FAR too much time on their hands and are FAR too judgy! I think it’s a brilliant idea and your daughter obviously loves it and it’s working – so well done!!!!! x


    I love the idea of a reward chart I love the way that this has broken the cycle of Daddy having to go in and sleeping on the floor. Erin will now feel like she is a big girl don’t worry about what the perfect parents have to say at all because we all know it is different for everybody

    Charlotte x

  5. Abbie

    What a great reward chart! Feeling vd that I never even thought to make one, I bought one! I see no problem in using them, they are a fantastic way in getting children involved in different things!

    Like you say, sounds like someone has too much time on their hands!

  6. Deb Sharratt

    Really don’t see what the issue is. if it works then that’s fab 🙂

  7. ESsexkate

    My understanding is that reward charts aren’t always successful in changing behaviour long term as the child is doing the behaviour to get the reward rather than for the intrinsic satisfaction, but clearly for a lot of situations they work.
    Young children will not ignore their immediate needs for something (whether food, comfort, the TV) if they are strong enough in order to be rewarded in the future. Even at 5 if I suggest my daughter can have 1 sweet now or 3 in an hour she will choose the immediate one.
    It’s great that you have found something that makes her be excited about staying in her bed

  8. Georgina

    I am a big believer in reward schemes. We have targets and goals when we have jobs so why is that any different?

  9. Babies and Beauty

    Surely doing a reward chart is nothing but a kind, caring and loving way to help your child transition. Some people are silly, keep doing what you’re doing!

  10. KIri

    We use a reward chart and while it’s not always been successful, sometimes it does work. I love your idea, with a very clear goal – I think I might steal it to use for potty training as we are having no luck! I don’t care that’s it’s bribery. They still chose whether to behave in a certain way or not, it’s hardly forcing them to do what you want. Joining in with the eye rolling!

  11. catherine hooper

    can’t believe anyone would say anything negative about this. they must be very sad! (as in weird ha ha ) It is working well for you and your child so keep going!! she will have her cabin bed before you know it!!

  12. JessIca

    I love the idea of a reward chart! Especially love yours using the photo and making it into a game, will definitely be saving this idea for our text troublesome time with our toddler. Ignore that stranger, definitely way too much time on their hands! You are doing a brilliant job – go Mummy! x

  13. Claire

    A reward chart is such a wonderful idea! I think if it’s gonna help your child understand better and you guys getting some normalcy back, then it can only be a winner 🙂 xx

  14. Juliet EVANS

    What a brilliant idea, we have been through similar with my son insisting that my husband lies on the floor next to his bed, mostly as an excuse for chatter and prolonging bedtime, it is actually kinder to your kids to enforce a good bedtime regime so you all get a decent nights sleep and the reward chart is a good plan! There are always those who will criticise no matter what you do, believe in yourself as a parent and trust your judgments, your daughter looks happy with it!

  15. AlisoN

    I love this reward chart. It’s so clever. I’m going to steal this design for our next hurdle and there will be one! I can’t tell from your post if the lady who made the comment was a friend or someone in passing but it sounds like she isn’t very experienced with children in general.

  16. Lucie

    Of all the things to judge someone on!!

    I think reward charts are a great idea!!!

  17. Amy @ the smallestofthings

    Urgh people and their opinions! You keep doing whatever works for you 🙂 a little bit of gentle encouragement never hurt anyone! ox


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Hi, I’m Lucy, a thirty something mum of two from Birmingham. A memory maker, tradition keeper, stationery addict and Mr Men fanatic. HR Advisor by day and sleep deprived Mama by night!

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