Easy Reward System That Works
Rewards systems have been used for years in the workplace, at school, in the home, in jail, in the hospital… All of these places have been known to use some type of reward system to motivate and have found success.
Unfortunately, this whole reward system thing hasn’t been as effective as many families have hoped. But before you toss the idea out completely, I highly recommend you read the tips below to see if maybe you’ve been making one of these common reward system mistakes. I’ve made them. As a counselor who has sat down with many parents and helped them come up with a reward system–I’ve also seen them make some of the the same mistakes.
When I was counseling I had parents come in to talk to me because their children were having full blown tantrums when getting dropped off at school. They had tried many things but to no avail still found themselves in the same place. For some parents drop-off meant: bruises, scratches from their child.
I usually suggested some type of reward system that the teacher could use in the classroom and parents could also use at home. A week or two parents reported similar stories: my child is loving the sticker reward system so much that it’s motivated them to stop screaming at drop-off.
Sometimes it’s hard trying to figure out what will motivate your child but kids love affirmation, praise and acknowledgement.
We’ve been doing our “I Appreciate You” system, for a little under a month and it’s been great. It’s also helped keep me accountable to verbally affirm my boys, for the little ways they help around the house and for their kindness with each other. Sometimes in the midst of the busyness I miss those moments or I take them for granted.
Though I must mention, the second week into it I had to remind them of our list of how to get a pom-pom balls because they were back at tattle-telling on each other and forgetting to be kind. Overall, it’s been working wonderfully and I’m hoping that this helps them build new habits on how to handle situations like, bickering or not sharing and hopefully will make them think before responding.
Actually, I’ve already seen it in action. The other day my child who LOVES to whine was about to start his whining and complaining and the minute his first words came out he caught himself and changed his tone of voice and his words.
I’ve been reading about the brain and one of the interesting facts I discovered is that our brain creates neural pathways and the more we do something whether good or bad it’s creating a pathway on how we respond, feel and think about that situation or experience. It’s the way our body prepares us for positive or negative experiences.
The lovely thing is that our brain can alter existing pathways and create new ones. Which is great because sometimes we adopt unhealthy coping skills. Or for the sexually abused victim who’s deathly afraid of men. Or the child who was traumatized by the sound of fireworks at a young age and can’t stand similar loud sounds. I’m not an expert in this area so I won’t pretend to be but this is how I’m applying what I’m learning to my parenting.
So if anything this reward system, is helping my children create new pathways to how they respond to things. Instead of immediately responding with whining, complaining and bickering they are now thinking about their actions when confronted with a situation. At least that’s my hope and prayer.
My 3 biggest tips for you with any reward system:
1. Go into it knowing that what works for one family may not work for you. So try it and if doesn’t work tweak it to fit your needs.
2. Reward systems need to have a goal and a cut-off time. As a counselor, I always encourage parents to use a reward system for a specific time and then put it to the side when the goal has been accomplished.
3. Make your expectations clear and be consistent. In my own experience or every time I’ve heard a parents share that they’ve tried lots of reward systems but they didn’t work it’s usually because of these two things. What do you expect from them? What do they need to do to get a pom-pom ball? What do they need to do to get a reward? How long will it last -a week, a few days…? You have to be consistent in rewarding them otherwise they pick up on your inconsistency and lose motivation and interest.
And here’s a bonus tip: I notice parents make this error a lot when they’re sitting in my office trying to come up with a reward system for their child. We get to the reward part of the system and they’ll want to use rewards like: Happy Meals and Barbies. Well, realistically if you plan on doing this for two weeks and you’re going to reward her after she comes home from school everyday–will it work to give her a Happy Meal every day? No, so don’t set that up as a reward. We used to give our kids juice boxes as a reward and they loved it.
Your Expectations for Earning a Pom-Pom Ball:
1. If you’d like our cute owls & instructions–just click here Look Whooo’s Been Good Jar How To or come up with your own expectations. I left the last line empty so you can fill it in with whatever else you see them doing good that doesn’t fall into those categories.
I personally have decided that I won’t reward them for doing chores but I will reward them for being such responsible kids. Again, remember do what works best for you, this may be an area you’re trying to work on so if you need to add that to your list of expectations.
Make sure you say why you’re giving them the ball this way they can hear the verbal affirmation coming from you mouth. For example I just told my son this, “You were having a hard time this morning weren’t you. Well, I did notice that you decided to change your attitude and make better choices and that takes a lot of maturity. I’m giving you a pom-pom ball for that.”
They get to pick some kind of experience that we can enjoy together (whether it’s with both me and hubbie or with just one of us) which will also keep us accountable to our dates that we have with the kids (we’ve been slackers in this area). For example: picnic at the park, ice cream date, movie night (at home) after everyone else has goes to bed, coke and a game date, decide what we’ll eat for dinner, stay up later, you get to pick the dessert for the evening (even make it together)…
Our 3 year old will get his reward after he gets 10 balls as waiting to fill up his jar since at his age kids need to see results, incentives a lot sooner than a 6 or 7 year old.
How to Make Your Jar:
1. For your Jar Owls you can print this here Look Whooo’s Been Good Jar Labels. Or just write their names on the jar.
2. Buy a bag of pom poms and you’re set.