What is it?

A token economy system is a way of recognising, promoting and rewarding behaviour. Children are given ‘tokens’ when they show a positive behaviour and this is exchanged for a bigger reward. Therefore, this system enables you to provide frequent and small rewards, which allows your child to work towards something bigger that they are really excited about.

An example:

When David cleans up his toys after playtime, he gets one sticker as a token. After he collects 10 stickers, he earns his reward – watching his favourite movie.

5 simple steps to implement your own token economy system at home:

  1. Prepare a token chart and tokens and put it somewhere visible to your child. Here are some examples:
  1. Decide what positive behaviour you want to promote. This can range from sitting nicely, using a quiet voice, initiating greetings, following routines, completing tasks at home, doing homework, reading books etc. The list is endless!
    • CDC Tips:
      • Work on one behaviour at a time!
      • Make sure this is realistic and something your child is capable of doing
      • Phrase the behaviour positively, for example, use ‘Speaking in a calm voice when angry’ instead of ‘No Shouting’


  1. Each time your child shows the behaviour that you are looking for, give him/her a token to stick on the chart! Acknowledge that your child has demonstrated the positive behaviour and show praise, (e.g. ‘I love how you cleaned up your toys, here is your token’.
    • CDC Tips:
      • Remember to follow through with your tokens and give them out consistently and fairly!


  1. Identify the reward that your child will receive after he/she has collected all the tokens. This is something that could be decided with you and your child together.
    • CDC Tips:
      • The reward needs to be something that is desirable and enjoyable for your child.
      • Make the reward explicit to your child, so he/she is motivated to collect all the tokens.
      • Choose something that is easily available and accessible Avoid rewards like ‘going swimming over the weekend’, just in case these cannot be followed through.
      • Examples include: watching T.V, playing on the iPad, eating a chocolate bar.


  1. Once all the tokens have been collected, give lots of praise and immediately deliver the reward that was decided on previously.