If there is one thing I can say with certainty, it is that not all kids respond the same to reward schemes and even if you find one that works, it won’t necessarily remain working for your kids.
I have tried every type of scheme I can think of. Some of the most memorable ones have been:
When my kids were little, it was a great way to reward them for good behaviour. However, there are two problems with this system: a) I would forget to update it when we got home and b) you can’t pull stickers off the chart when they don’t behave. For example is it okay to reward them for brushing their teeth and making their bed, when they have just hit their sibling for stealing a toy?
$100 Disney Money
We had planned a trip to Disneyland with our kids, so I set up an incentive scheme for spending money. I gave them each a chart with $100 ‘Disney’ money. Each time they did something that was wrong they lost $1. Whatever was left at the end of the month they got to spend at Disneyland. One child ended up with nothing, one with $5, one with $75 and one with $90. The thing is, the one that doesn’t need an incentive to behave received a lot of money and the ones that the scheme was intended to incentivize, ended up with nothing.
I bought each child their own coloured jar and each time they were good they got a jellybean put in their jar, each time they were bad they lost a jelly bean. I figured this would give them a visual and tasty reward for good behaviour. Once again, one kid practically ended up in a sugar coma from so many jellybeans whilst another got none. It seemed unfair to continue this scheme when it obviously wasn’t having its desired effect for my youngest kids. They would even occasionally open someone else’s jar and eat their jellybeans, which meant they then lost any jellybeans they had earned. All in all, it was too hard to monitor.
This has worked well for us as I always have my phone nearby and can instantly add or take away stars as required. It can be customised to include chores appropriate for that child and the rewards can also be customised – my son may get Pokemon cards, whilst my daughter may get jewellery. The app I use is called iRewardChart, but there plenty of them on the market that do the same job.
A girlfriend was telling me what is working for her at the moment is bribing her son with time to work on his ‘village’ in some game he plays. Each day he knows he will be allowed to have screen time once all his chores are done. He is so motivated by this that he is dressed and ready for school in a flash so that he can ‘save his village’. Obviously this is working a treat for my friend because her son is so invested in this game. I guess the key is that this can work for any game, sport etc if the child is passionate and motivated by it.
The main thing is to keep your mind open to any concept that you think will work with your kids. Then try them out and if they work that’s great; if they don’t, then try something else. Even re-trying reward schemes that haven’t worked previously can be useful as kids change and may be more receptive than in the past.
Good luck. You deserve a gold star for trying!
Let me know what you have tried and if it was successful. It may help inspire another parent to come up with an incentive scheme for their kids.
(Photo courtesy of freedigitalphoto.net)