I know that there is a great divide in the parenting world about rewarding children for chores & behavior, and there is a fine line/difference of opinion as to where “rewarding” ends and “bribing” begins. Personally, I think every family has to figure out what is right for them, and today I’m sharing what works for us! We practice natural consequences for actions and our reward system compliments our parenting quite well.
We’ve tried a few things over the years, and discovered that “all or nothing” and/or negative (you lose something) systems don’t work for us. For the past year or so, we have awarded “points” (we use poker chips) for different tasks, and the kids can save them to cash in for prizes.
Our current system has helped us make certain behaviors and jobs become a matter of habit for our children, rather than solely being done for a reward. Though it may have started out that way, the initial motivation of earning points for prizes has helped turn picking up toys/putting clothes in the hamper/throwing trash away become habit. I’m not saying they are perfect, but it helps a lot.
Occasionally if one of our children is having an especially hard time remembering/doing something in particular, I may increase the point value of that task temporarily. For example, my 3-year old is #notimpressed by baths, LOL.
Sometimes I give extra points when I catch one of my kids doing something extra special, like cleaning a mess that doesn’t belong to them without being asked. I don’t always do this since I of course want my kids to do things for the right reasons, not for a reward.
Each child has a collection of prizes:
Each prize has a point value assigned to it (loosely based on the dollar value…25 cents equals 25 points, $1.00 equals 100 points and so on. We initially started with color coded stickers, but they didn’t want to stick!
My 3 year old practices counting the number of chips, while my daughter practices counting their value (25, 5 and 1) and determining when she can trade for a larger value chip, how many points she needs to get the prize she wants etc. Both have learned about saving for something they want, and feeling like they have earned it. My son learned about “buying” all the low value prizes and then having to wait to get a bigger one!
Things seem to work best when I award chips at the end of each day, so they can directly correlate their behavior for that day to the chips they earned, and set goals for the next day. Unfortunately I’m not great at doling them out daily, and tend to do it every 2-3 days instead!
We do not do allowance yet, but I know we will need to decide how we want to handle that too!
Do you have any reward system for your kids?