Token Boards: The Do’s and Don’ts

Token Boards: the do's and don'ts

What are Token Boards?

A token economy allows you to individualize what behaviors you are working on.  Token boards are the tool to use to manage said behaviors.  They make it easy to manage multiple students with very different behaviors with very different reinforcers.    Using a token board allows you to also individualize the student reinforcer. 

I love using token boards because it teaches real-world skills.  We are all working for some type of reward.  Whether that incentive is binge-watching a Netflix show, going out for ice cream, or going bowling on a Friday night, we all love earning our rewards. 

However, over the course of my 15 years of teaching, I have witnessed token boards being used incorrectly which can have negative effects on our students.  So I wanted to write this blog post to give you a quick snap shot of 6 do's and don'ts when using Token Boards.  

If you are looking to read more about how to use token boards, you can read this blog post!

token boards example


  1. Give tokens immediately: Do not wait until the end of the week to give the token.  If she did the desired behavior, immediately give the token.
  2. Say Why: be specific on why you gave the token.  For exaple, “Great job returning to your seat Johnny”, then give the token.
  3. Give Frequent Tokens:  When you are just starting out, you want to give lots of tokens often.  You want them to love the system.  You can fade them later.
  4. State the Behavior:  You want to make it clear what behavior you want to see from the students.  For example, ” I want to see you walking down the hallway”. (i want to see you raising your hand)
  5. Change it Up:  You want to teach students flexibility, so you want to change it, with different token boards and different reinforcers.
  6. Do provide backup reinforcers: Sometimes students have a sudden change of heart, make sure that you have that backup reinforcer ready to go!
frustrated with independent work


  1. Don't Take Away Earned Tokens: When a student has earned a token, do not take them away as a last resort for them to comply with behavior.  Those tokens are earned.  Try something else.
  2. Don't use them as a threat! We want to establish good working relationships with students, so using threats to help them comply with behavior just doesn't work.  For example, “I'm not gonna give you your token if you don't do it” often times become empty threats.
  3. Don't make it too difficult to earn the token– when we are just starting out with token boards, you want them to feel successful right away!!  
  4. Don't overcomplicate it: let it be simple, if it's too confusing it won't be used by you or your team! 
  5. Don't be the only one using the token economy: the whole team needs to be trained and on board with using these token economies!  This includes special area teachers and therapists!
  6. Don't keep it the same the whole year: As the year goes on try fewer tokens, different incentives and reinforcers, and fade the tokens.  You don't want them relying on tokens forever!

Where Can I find printable Token Boards?

In my TpT store, I have a bunch of different types of token boards that you can use.  Some are clipart and some have real images.  I tried to make enough to have plenty to choose from.  You can grab those right here!

I am a High School, self-contained Autism teacher from Central New York, who is passionate about individualizing student learning. I am a mommy of three, lover of all things Disney, married to my best friend and addicted to chocolate!! I hope that you find great ideas and inspiration here, so welcome!!

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