Friday, June 17, 2011

Positive Reinforcement ~ Treasure chest

I have quite a few targets for DS; by targets I mean, new skills that I'm encouraging him to use, or new or challenging behaviors that I need him to master to be more effective at school or certain social venues.

DS responds more to positive reinforcement. One method that works well for us is a token system. I keep it basic by rewarding positive behaviors with a token. If we are going to be in a store for a while, I give DS the rules before we get into the store and remind him of what's at stake. It typically works.

I tried to get a little creative and added onto this method. DS has been into pirates and treasures lately, so I found a container that can pass for a treasure chest and told DS when he gets 6 tokens, he gets a map to find a hidden treasure chest.

In the chest I have faux diamonds, rubies, sapphires, money, etc... It's still a work in progress, so I'm adding other treasures as I find them. I then add a surprise in the chest (something he normally doesn't get; candy or a special toy). The map is a hand drawn map of our house and I mark an X to where the treasure is hidden. This is great skill building too, because he has to use the map to find the treasure.

It's a hit because the prize is always different and so is the location. Eventually the token system will turn into money when he gets a bit older, but for now it works.

The token chart is hanging on his wall in his room. Tokens are pictures of things he's into, instruments, trains, etc...

Arrghhh... treasure!


  1. What a clever idea - to motivate all kids. I love that you position it as a token system, and also, that he - and you - will recognize the treasure to be found by executing on the skills and behaviors you're trying to achieve.


  2. Thanks BLW :) I'm really happy with this is so effective. When he gets back from his dad's house, he says 'Mommy I was good! I get a token and 5 more and then we find the treasure!'.