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Smart Woman: Getting the Point

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Instead of punishing a child, Dr. Russell Barkley, Ph.D. and author of the book "Your Defiant Child", takes a different approach to get a child to do what is asked or expected of him or her. He calls it the point or token system or "The Home Poker Chip Program" and says it can be used for children ages four and up. It is based on the idea that rewards can be extremely effective and some children need that extra push.

How It Works: A token system is set up whereby a child earns chips or points for completing certain tasks. The tokens can be redeemed for rewards or privileges the child values.

For example:

    Jobs
  • Brush teeth --- 3 points

  • Wash face --- 2 points

  • Hang up clothes --- 2 points

  • Take out trash --- 3 points

  • Study for test --- 15 points for 15 minutes

  • Finish math in 20 minutes --- 10 points


  • Privilege & Cost
  • Play outside --- 1 point

  • TV (1/2 hour) --- 3 points

  • Invite Friend Over --- 5 points

  • Rent Video game/movie --- 20 points

  • Spend night w/friend --- 30 points

  • Buy special toy --- varies


  • These will vary depending on the child's age and the circumstances.

    Important Do's and Don'ts for the Point System:

    • Don't introduce the program by telling the child because he or she always misbehaves, privileges are being taken away and have to be earned back.


    • Don't wait to reward the child. Give the chips immediately after the completion of a task.


    • Don't fine the child for misbehavior. This is an incentive for good behavior.


    • Do make sure both parents use the program.


    • Do reinforce the reward with praise.


    • For more information, contact:

      Alison Duffy
      Office of Public Affairs and Publications
      University of Massachusetts Medical School
      55 Lake Avenue North
      Worchester, MA 01655
      (508) 856-2000
      E-mail: alison.duffy@umassmed.edu
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