Additional Terms to Remember

Token Economy

Children are placed on a system where they earn tokens for good behaviors, or not doing bad behaviors. They can trade their tokens in later for bigger rewards. This is a no-fuss way of giving children both smaller immediate rewards and larger rewards they can work toward.

Response Cost

If a child misbehaves, not only does he lose his chance at earning a token, but he is fined a token. His negative behaviors cost him a token. This approach only works with children who earn more tokens than they lose. Do not continue it with a child whose token balance is typically in the red.

An innovative way of applying this technique is to have a response-cost lottery (Witt and Elliott, 1982). Give your students four strips of paper, which they can keep in an envelope taped to their desk. Each child’s misbehavior costs him one strip of paper. Whatever many strips each child has left at the end of the day go into the lottery draw for a prize.

Contingency Contract

An agreement between you and a child, stating specifically what you want the child to do, and what you will do when he does it. Spell out these terms so there is no ambiguity about whether you or the child are keeping your part of the contract. This works well with older children, who do not need the same degree of structure as younger children. For example, you might make up a contract stating if George finishes his homework four out of five days in the week, you will let him choose a prize (illustration #1).