Token systems & tokens

In 123TokenMe the dog biscuit changes into a dog when a token is awardedA token system can be an effective and efficient strategy for teaching skills and improving behaviors. Variations of token systems are commonly used in home, clinical, and classroom settings. They include token boards, star charts, marble jars, and gold coins. In each of these settings, an individual or group is awarded a token upon completion of a task, or upon displaying a targeted behavior for a set amount of time. A token is a visual or tangible symbol and functions as a type of reinforcer. After earning a predetermined number, tokens are cashed- in or exchanged for something the individual finds valuable and motivating.


123TokenMe is unique because of its flexibility and ease to personalize token systems. Both the teacher/parent and student/child play an active role in designing an effective system. Student involvement increases “buy-in” and motivation. This, in turn, speeds up the learning process.


The teacher modifies a target behavior systematically as a student progresses closer to an outcome goal. The ultimate outcome is for students to be able to perform skills on their own in the real world. This means independently and appropriately without extra reinforcement required. Changes should be made to the token system parameters as behaviors are shaped. These changes should work towards increasing the time before a student receives reinforcement, and should help to maintain learning momentum. Teachers may adjust the number of tokens to be awarded before reinforcement (1- 20 tokens) and the optimal time interval between receiving tokens (0- 90 minutes).


The student plays a role by selecting their token type and background based on interests and favorites. The student chooses their rewards, or what they want to work for, and may order choices from least preferred to favorite.


Using a token system works most effectively when implemented consistently. Verbal social praise that includes specific positive feedback referencing the target behavior should occur each time a token is awarded, such as, “Great singing with your friends, Mia.” “I like the way you are keeping your hands to yourself, Ethan!” “Cool sitting, Izzy.”


Skilled users may incorporate additional behavioral strategies with the 123TokenMe system: response cost and differential reinforcement. With response cost, awarded tokens may be removed and reinstated by tapping. Use the reward shelf to incorporate differential reinforcement options. Reinforcers may be placed in preference order on the reward shelf by dragging. Return an item to the chest, or double-tap a reward to place a bold, red “Xon it. Either action reminds students, I lost this choice and I need to be cool. Designate the most-preferred reinforcement choice by dragging it to the heart, located at the right end of the reward shelf. When it is placed on the heart, the item becomes larger, and the simple silver frame turns to gold. These changes are a powerful positive reminder: Look- this is what I am working for!


123TokenMe bonus hint: With old-fashioned token systems, the only motivation occurs when a session ends and the student is usually given a time period to play with or use their chosen reward.

Chocolate chip to cookie transformation

Caterpillar to butterfly transformationWith 123TokenMe, however, every time a token is awarded it is a mini-motivation for the student. Why? 1) The tokens are engaging. 2) The student has been involved in the choice of token. 3) Whenever a token is awarded, a “magical” transformation takes place- the dog bone transforms into a dog, the chocolate chip bakes into a cookie, or the caterpillar grows into a butterfly.

So, 1, 2, 3… Enjoy!