5 Steps to Create an Effective Behavior Management System

Token Economies: Maybe you have heard about them, tried them out and they didnt work, or was not sure where to even begin? Well you have come to the right place here is some background information and 5 easy steps to implement a successful token economy.

So the big question is why use them? I like to think that we are reinforced for our work through paychecks.  If we did not get one, I do not know how many people would should up for work, so I then ask you- shouldn’t students be reinforced for theirs

What are token economies? Students earn tokens for a specific, desirable target behavior.  They then can exchange the tokens for a back-up reinforcer.

  • What are tokens? A token can be a picture, a puzzle piece, or anything the student understands that they did something right and they are being reinforced for it.
  • What is a backup reinforcer? A backup reinforcer is the big thing the student is working for.

5 Easy Steps to Be Sure Your Token Economy Works

  1. Consider the behavior you want to change-is it for one child, a classroom, several children? Define it so anyone who works with the child is clear when they are doing the correct behavior.
  2. Choose tokens- be sure students feel they are reinforcing (Can be velcro smiles, a superhero they like, physical coins)
  3. Set up a schedule, how often to earn tokens. Is it based on time? Number of trials? I have had students who need it every five minutes and I have also had students who need it every five questions they complete.
  4. Determine back up reinforcers. These must always be available when child earns them.
  5. Determine criteria for back up reinforcers

*Important* Be sure to get everyone on the same page! This will not work if some adults give reinforcers on a different schedule.

Advantages:
    • Students do not become satiated to tokens.  They do not get bored of the tokens because they get different back up reinforcers and you do not have to give them the big reinforcer each time!
    • Can change schedule to make exchange time longer. This will increase the amount of time on task for students.
    • Can be used across settings- Token economies should be able to move across all areas of the school so the child has a consistent behavior system, and it is easy to bring with you!
    • Can reinforce behavior with tokens without interrupting the learning or classroom environment. This is so important- students need to know they are doing a good job when they are working without completely getting them distracted.
    • Can be provided immediately after the behavior occurs to helps teach children what specific behavior they did correct.

Token economies can be overwhelming, but they can be simple and individualized with these easy 5 steps! Good luck and I would love to hear if these helped you!

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