Works for me: Champ Ladder

I’ve been wanting to tell you about a really cool reward chart that I have been trialing for about 6 weeks now. It is called the Champ Ladder. Over two decades of parenting, I’ve tried my share of star charts and reward systems. Many things seem to work for awhile but I have a hard time remembering to KEEP USING THEM. Kids seem to lose their motivation after awhile too.

This system allows you to customize 10 different levels on the chart with rewards and consequences that suit your family. After you fill out an online questionaire, Champladder makes up a fridge chart customized for you right down to the names of the children who will be using the chart.

Just to give you an idea of how it works for us: the kids using the chart at our house are between 5 and 12 years. Kids at level 10, the highest level on the chart, can stay up till 10 pm, plus have all the rewards of lower levels on the chart. Kids at Level 8 can play half an hour of video games during the day. Level 5 or higher earns you the right to participate in sports or swim at the rec center.

Kids earn stars for morning, afternoon, and evening. If they earn 3 stars in a day, they move up the chart one level.

Kids move down the chart by breaking house rules. At our house sassing mom will move you down the chart. So will lying or hurting a sibling or disobeying an older sibling who has been left in charge. This means that ONE bout of disobedience moves you down one whole level on the chart, and it takes a whole day of excellent behavior to move back up.

In 6 weeks of doing this, none of the kids have gone below level 4 on the chart, and usually they are around 8 or 9. This system is REALLY working well for us. Kids have been much better behaved, and I have been less frustrated because if someone is giving me grief, instead of lecturing or cajoling, I just go bump them down on the chart. There are also special reward cards you can use to move a kid up who is showing extra-great behavior.

This system definitely WORKS FOR ME!

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  1. I am so looking into this. It sounds like just what we need around here. Since the Mommy sounds like she’s insane when she yells, and all……….

  2. Wow, that sounds great. Don’t need it quite yet but Angel will be getting sassy in no time 🙂

  3. Hi Mary,

    I think my husband just sent you an email he meant for me telling me that you’d emailed him. So just ignore it, please.

    Thank you so much for bragging on our ChampLadder. In reading your description and how you use it, you are “Right On” the money. I’m glad you found it easy to use and are actually utilizing it instead of stressing out. That had been the actual premise for us designing this system and offering it to others. It was the fact that we were taking on too many frustrations when it should be the kids moving themselves up or down. The ChampLadder replaces “yelling and frustration”….and I like that!

    Right now my 12 year old is on step 7 and our 11 year old is on step 6. American idol and Lost is on this week and one of them may not be able to see it at all. I can’t believe they keep forgetting to ask. In our house, they have to “ask” us if they’d gone up that day and they do this when they brush their teeth. Three thumbs up or “3 stars” would get them there, but a lot of times they forget to ask us. Also, they need to ask for their allotted allowance on “Thursday night Family Fun Night”. Since my kids are a little older, I expect them to want to move up bad enough to “ask”.

    When our 2 girls come here from Ethiopia this Summer, I certainly won’t start them on it till they are ready, but I’ll have to customize/order a girly one for their age group, which will be toddler age. I can’t wait for them to come.

    I continue to follow your blog and really miss your Ethiopian Blog, but like you said, you’ve pretty much said everything you can at this stage.

    Thanks again Mary. You continue to amaze me!


  4. That sounds really effective.

    Thanks for sharing it.

  5. I’m very interested in this!!

    My twins are 6 and not quite reading yet. Close, but not quite. Do you think it’s concrete enough for them to use, even as non-readers?

    Thank you for sharing this with us. I am definitely checking it out…

  6. Hi,
    I am glad this is (seemingly) working for you. I think rewards systems can be tricky because children are working for the reward not because it is the right thing to do. In a family of 20 children I am sure it is more complicated than a family of 4. So possibly this system is really the only way to make the family work together. I would be interested to see if over time it is effective.

  7. Hi! I am looking for a chart system too – does this work well for younger children, like 2 and 4? It sounds like a good system, and I am going to check into it! Thanks!

  8. I think that this could be used for preschoolers as well. You would need to think of rewards more suitable than later bedtime and phone time though. Actually, my instinct is that it might be more complicated than a 3 year old truly needs. Just earning stars would probably be enough motivation for my 3 year old, with maybe a simple reward like a piece of chocolate or a special game with mom at the end of every successful day.

    Elizabeth, I see your point about working for rewards. I also would like my children to do right strictly because it is the right thing to do. Actually, my teenagers are all at that level, so I am not doing this system with them. Sure they have moments of making bad choices, but in general they are now mature enough to choose to do right. Praise God!!!!

    As far as motivation and younger kids, I think that helping a child get into the HABIT of obedience is helpful, even if their motivation at first is strictly to stay up later at night or whatever. Later they will develop the maturity to make good choices on their own

    One other thought I had is that most employed people are working for a reward, a paycheck. More diligent employees tend to get more raises and more perks and are less likely to be laid off. When I reward my kids good behavior, this reinforcement is not all that different than what will happen in the adult working world if they work hard.

    I also am interested if this will continue to work for us for the long term. But most systems I have tried have only lasted a week or two, so I am optimistic.


  9. Debbi Busack says:

    I need some more ideas for what to put on the steps. I ordered the champ ladder but I’m stuck as to what to put. They don’t have video games and they aren’t into the phone a regular basis. My kids are 2, 6, 8, 10, 12, 13



  10. Debbi,

    This is Lisa, the creator of ChampLadder. A couple ideas..

    – Sit down with the kids and ask them to write down things that they would get excited about. This might also help jog your ideas into place as well.

    – We’ve added allowance to our chart. Each Thursday night is Family Fun Night and depending on where they are at, they get $3 (step 7), $5 (step 8) , $7 (step 9) or $10 (step 10). Trust me, I’m hardly handing out $10. But if I am, it’s worth it cause they are on #10 if they get it.

    – Don’t forget that within this system, you print out “Move Up” coupons that you hand out as you wish. If my 7th grader has had a particularly great day at school, that means a lot to us, so we love handing out those coupons.

    – Make sure that 4 and below are not fun. They don’t want to “live” below 4 and it should be uncomfortable for them.

    – We make our kids move their magnetic marker up and down themselves. So it is actually their behavior and their little hands that make this ladder happen. It sort of takes us out of the picture and they can get angry with their choices rather than Mom and Dad.

    – See what they come up with in your brainstorm session with them. They will tell you what they want!

    – Remember, ultimately we are wanting our children to “feel like doing the right thing” without this ladder dictating it all. We are training them up to make decisions more and more by themselves. At some point, they move away from the ladder because they have shown maturity (say 15 and above) that they are making decisions based on “What is right and what is wrong”. This chart is a really great interactive “visual” for kids as they are learning what is important and what “good decisions” are.

    – Also, with this system you are getting a “Companion Guide” that is filled with more great ideas as to how to become closer as a family. I really loved writing this guide and actually I wanted to write so much more. But I needed to keep it general and not so much personal. This guide contains things to do on “Family Fun Night”. And ideas for each month of the year that bring the family closer together.

    Hope this helps. Have fun with it. You may want to do 2 separate charts…one for toddlers and one for older kids. If you do, just ask us for a discount on the second one and I’ll honor that.

    From one Mom to another!
    Lisa W.

  11. We’ve been using something along these lines for a couple of months and really, really like it. It takes the pressure off me to come up with some “consequence”. It also keeps me from forgetting when so-and-so has lost some privilege. 🙂

    I’m going to go check out Champ Ladder!

  12. here’s a similiar chore/discipline ladder created by Becki Dilley, I used her method when my children were smaller, there teenagers now and don’t need it now.

    Becky’s seems similiar to the one mentioned here but one nice thing about it, IT’S FREE and free is always nice in my book.

    Here are two different sites explaining the same thing but one has cute pics of her six kids that are now high school age.