Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) is most notably used in the treatment of children with Autism Spectrum Disorders. But in truth, ALL children experience problem behaviors at some point in their lives - from the “terrible twos” to the rebellious teen years. This blog is designed to provide an overview of ABA and how it can be a useful tool for typically developing children, teenagers, and even your husband;)

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Token Economies - Using sticker charts as reinforcement

To follow-up my reinforcement post, I thought I would talk about token economies (i.e. sticker charts, token boards, etc.)  This strategy can be helpful both for parents and teachers.  A couple examples might be to use sticker charts at home for performing chores or at school for completing homework.  Stickers could be traded for reinforcers, with each reinforcer having a different "cost" (i.e. number of stickers needed to trade in for the item).  The ultimate reinforcers don't have to be tangible items and don't have to cost you any money.  Maybe your child likes to watch TV or play on the computer.  These activities don't have to be "free" - they can be EARNED!  Imagine that, right?! 

Parents and teachers can easily create a chart using cheap items from the Dollar Store or the $1 bins at Target.  These stores often have sections with cheap school supplies, including chore charts, calendars, stickers, etc.  You can even make your own chart using your computer (WordArt, Clip Art, Tables, etc.)  It's helpful to make your stickers/tokens removable (I LOVE velcro dots and foam shape stickers).  For one thing this allows you to reuse the chart, but you may also set up contingencies that stickers can be removed if your child engages in certain behaviors.  For example, if your child is a big "complainer" then maybe they lose a sticker for complaining about how many chores they have to do.  Google is filled with ideas of sticker charts - take a look for yourself!    


  1. What type of reinforcement schedule would a token economy be? say for example if a reinforcement was given for a certain amount of stickers?

  2. Well, a token economy can be any schedule you set it to. Think of each sticker as a reinforcer. If, for example, one chore = one sticker then you have a Fixed Ratio 1 schedule. Then you have a completely seperate schedule for your big reinforcer. For example, if your entire token board/sticker board has 5 places for stickers and you can turn those stickers in for any reinforcer (candy bar, trip to the park, video game time, etc) then you have a fixed ratio 5 schedule.

    Other schedules to use to earn stickers:
    Fixed interval 5: stay on task doing chores for 5 minutes to earn 1 token
    Variable ratio 2: on average of every 2 chores completed (sometimes 1, sometimes 3, and so on) you earn 1 sticker
    Variable interval 5: on average of every 5 minutes of on-task behavior (sometimes 4 minutes, sometimes 6 minutes, and so on) you earn 1 sticker

    Does that help?