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The Power of Token Boards

Token board this image shows a dad watching his sons doing an activity
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Ever had one of those days where you feel like you’re playing a never-ending game of tag with your child? You’re not alone. As a professional working with kids, I’ve seen parents’ challenges, especially when their child is neurodivergent. Meet the token board – a simple yet effective tool that can transform your daily routines and help your child grasp the concept of cause-and-effect. This blog post will shed light on a token board, how it works, and how you can implement it in your home to promote positive behavior.

Understanding the Token Board

Let me tell you, the token board is not some high-tech gadget or complicated system. It’s a simple visual tool that helps kids understand the connection between behavior and consequences. You can think of it as a visual representation of a promise — “If you do this, you’ll get that.” It’s a fundamental concept, but for neurodivergent kids, making this link can be a little tricky.

So, how does a token board work? At its core, a token board is a chart with spaces for tokens. These tokens are awarded for positive behavior or the completion of tasks. Once the child collects a certain number of tokens, they can exchange them for a reward. This could be anything from extra playtime to a favorite snack.

Why Token Boards Work

Now, you might be thinking, “Why would a token board work with my child?” Well, for starters, it makes abstract concepts tangible. For neurodivergent kids, understanding the cause-and-effect relationship can be difficult. But when they see a token added to their board, they make a concrete connection — “I did something good, so I get a token.”

Moreover, token boards provide immediate feedback, crucial for learning new behaviors. Instead of waiting for an end-of-day reward, kids see an immediate result of their actions. This instant gratification can be a powerful motivator!

Token board this image shows a child helping his dad clean
Read more: Token Board Template for Kids | Free Printable

Ways to Use a Token Board

Now that you understand a token board let’s delve into how to use it to your advantage.

  • Show progress: A token board can be a visual representation of your child’s progress toward a reward. Every token earned is a step closer to their goal, making the process exciting and encouraging.
  • Adapt for learners: Token boards aren’t one-size-fits-all. They can be adapted to suit your child’s unique needs and preferences, making them an excellent tool for neurodivergent kids.
  • Reinforce multiple behaviors: You can use a token board to reinforce various behaviors, from completing homework on time to helping with chores or practicing social skills.
  • Reward desired behaviors: A token board can be an effective way to reward your child for engaging in desired behaviors, further motivating them to repeat these behaviors in the future.
  • Teach goals: A token system can help teach your child how to work toward short and long-term goals, instilling in them the value of perseverance and hard work.

Tips for Using a Token Board

Now that we’ve covered the basics let’s move on to some practical tips for using a token board effectively.

  • Make it visually appealing: Kids love colors and fun shapes. Making the token board visually appealing can make the process more exciting for your child.
  • Write the rules: For kids who can read, writing the rules on the token board can serve as a constant reminder of what they need to do to earn tokens.
  • Select a preferred reinforcer: The reward should be something your child genuinely wants. It could be extra playtime, a favorite snack, or a new toy. The more they want it, the more motivated they’ll be.
  • Give a token for each completed task: Each time your child completes a task or displays a desired behavior, name the behavior and give them a token. This reinforces the behavior and makes the reward feel attainable.
  • Use a variety of tokens: Tokens can be anything from stickers and stars to coins and marbles. Variety can keep the process exciting for your child.
Token board this image shows a mom and her child doing a high five
Read More: Reward Ideas for Kids

Creating a Token Board

Creating a token board can be fun and engaging. You can use a paper plate, cup, lid, or jar as the board and clothespins, paperclips, marbles, or coins as tokens. Personalize it with your child’s favorite colors or characters to make it more appealing. Remember, the goal is to make the process fun and rewarding for your child, so get creative!

Adapting the Token Board for Your Child

While token boards are a fantastic tool, they’re not one-size-fits-all. You might need to tweak the system to suit your child’s needs. For instance, some kids might need to earn fewer tokens before getting a reward, while others might benefit from a wider variety of rewards.

The key is to keep it flexible. As your child grows and their needs change, so should your token board. Remember, the goal is to motivate and teach, so whatever achieves that is a win in my book!

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Wrapping Up: Token Boards

A token board can be a game-changer in your parenting journey, especially if your child is neurodivergent. It’s a tool that rewards positive behavior, teaches the value of hard work, and makes learning fun. Remember to give a token for each task completed and keep the process exciting with various tokens. It’s about making positive behavior a habit and instilling in your child the joy of reaching a goal. Are you ready to give it a try?


  1. Child Mind Institute: An insightful look into token economies, explaining how they work and their benefits for children, including those with attention and behavior issues.
  2. Center for Parent Information and Resources – Behavioral Intervention: A detailed guide on token economy systems, which include token boards, aimed at helping parents and educators understand how to set up and use token economies to reinforce positive behavior.
  3. Positive Behavioral Interventions & Supports (PBIS): A guide on implementing a token economy system, a powerful tool for behavior management in both home and school settings, including practical advice on how to start, monitor, and fade out a token system effectively.

FAQs About Token Board

What is a token board?
A token board is a visual tool used to motivate and reinforce positive behavior in children by rewarding them with tokens for completing tasks or exhibiting desired behaviors.
How does a token board work?
A token board works by allowing children to earn tokens for completing tasks or exhibiting positive behavior, which can then be exchanged for rewards they find motivating and appealing.
Can a token board be used for children with ADHD?
Yes, a token board can be particularly helpful for children with ADHD, as it provides a clear and structured system for reinforcing positive behavior and promoting self-regulation.
What types of rewards can be used with a token board?
Rewards can vary depending on the child's interests and preferences, ranging from tangible items like toys or treats to experiences like extra screen time or a special outing.
How often should a child be rewarded using a token board?
The frequency of rewards will depend on the child's needs and the specific goals being targeted, but it's important to maintain consistency and provide regular reinforcement to maintain motivation.

This post was originally published on April 4, 2023. It was updated on March 12, 2024.

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