Parent problems – modify your child’s behavior through token economy

What is the token economy?
What is the token economy?

The token economy is also known as the point table, it is a behavior modification technique that was born in psychology , and is used by many professional therapists, educators, pedagogues, etc. It is a much more effective alternative to punishment in the long term, and it is used especially with children because its way of putting it into practice is similar to a game , and it can be used in children from 4 years of age.

Its function is, in general, to create new positive behaviors in them , so that each time they perform the behavior we want they earn points that they can exchange for prizes. For example: every time our son finishes doing all the homework, we give him 2 points, and when he manages to accumulate 6 points, we will give him a privilege or a prize. It is not a complicated technique, and parents can implement it in their own home with their children , but the key to making it work is to do it meticulously and consistently.

The foundations of the token economy: What do we look for and how?

The token economy is based on a form of learning that people have called operant conditioning. This consists, in a basic and general way, that if whenever we carry out an action or behavior it is followed by a positive consequence, we tend to repeat it. When we repeat a behavior a lot, we create a habit , which will be more difficult to eliminate from our routine. What we want with this technique is to create positive habits in children more effectively than using punishment .

How do we educate through the token economy?
How do we educate through the token economy?

How to start it

The only material that parents need to start the token economy program is a large card to draw a table where the points that the child is earning are placed. We are going to explain it with an example that can then be adapted to each case. Imagine that some parents have a child who has a hard time eating on days when there is not what he likes. In addition, he is a bit unruly and when he finishes playing with his toys, he does not want to pick them up, and when he is told to do so he begins to kick and cry. In this case, parents should make a table that has seven columns: one for each day of the week, and two rows: one where they will write each behavior they want to change .

To indicate the behavior they want to change, it must always be something concrete, that the child understands perfectly and does not give rise to misunderstandings , always positive. Thus, we would write "I finish the whole plate of food even if I do not like it", "When I finish playing I will put all the toys that I have used in their place". We would then have a 2×7 board, and we would place it somewhere in the house. The dots can be put in the form of colored stickers , painting them with a marker, or even with fridge magnets, whatever we choose.

Through it they will get points

It is very important to agree between the parents first how the child can redeem the points, that is, what prizes or privileges he will win in exchange for what number of points , and depending on the age of the child, it is a good idea to negotiate them with him. This price system will also be written on a separate sheet, and must remain immovable, so you have to think about realistic and not excessive prizes .

The little one will write down all their behaviors and their consequences
The little one will write down all their behaviors and their consequences

Rewards will always be used, never punishment . Nor will we give him something that we have taken from him as a reward, because we would be mixing it with punishment, and what we want is to replace it. This does not mean that parents should spend money on educating their children, the prize can be of many types , for example, as we said before, the day the child decides to exchange the points, they will be able to choose, for 6 total points, the dessert of the dinner.

It may also be that the next weekend he will choose a movie to see all together, or the park he wants to go to, buy a pack of stickers, go for a bike ride, sing him that song he likes … all I know. happen to us. You also have to adapt it to the age of the children, for example, if they are older, we would make a table with a less childish format and the prizes can be, for example, if you reach 50 points you can buy something special, such as a video game.

How to eliminate the program if it has worked

If the child has managed to create the habit of performing that behavior that we wanted to teach him, we must eliminate the program little by little, never abruptly. How do we do it? Well, by challenging you to level up in the game . Now, to earn 2 points, you must perform the behavior 3 times in a row. As we succeed with these delays in the prize, we can increase it until we eliminate it completely , but for this we must tell them that they have won, that they are a true champion and that from time to time, they will continue to win prizes because it is a very good boy.

Will we be successful using this technique?
Will we be successful using this technique?

Is Token Economy A Useful Technique?

The token economy is a successful procedure to include new positive behaviors, or eliminate other negative ones, as long as we do it by following the following guidelines:

– We must be patient and constant .

– As long as, without exception, that the child carries out the behavior, they must be awarded their earned points, and that he sees it. You have to do it as soon as you finish doing the homework, and not leave it for later.

– As long as you comply, in addition to giving you the points, you will be praised for how well you have done.

– If in a moment, especially at the beginning, the child does not fulfill his task, he will not be scolded. Calmly, he is told that he has not won the points today, and that tomorrow he has another chance to win them.

If you have not completed the task, you will not be awarded points , even if you behave well in other areas. If you do one yes and one no, you will be given the corresponding ones and no more.

This technique is easier for parents to apply if the intention is to work on specific tasks on a child who, in general, does not exhibit misbehavior . On the other hand, if it is the case of children whose behavior is very disruptive, and it is very difficult to teach them to behave correctly, it is advisable to go to a psychologist to help the parents in this difficult task.