It’s very important to me that my kids grow up to be well behaved and accountable for their actions. To help get them there I have always been a big proponent of positive reinforcement. When my kids did good things, like helped each other, solved a problem, did a chore without being asked, I rewarded them. I noticed that I began to fall into a rut though, and I was giving the same things like small toys, and food treats. Two things that I don’t think are the best. Rewarding my kids with food felt like I was treating them like a dog, and the small toy thing (usually from the dollar store) ended up with kids who began to expect things each I time we went to the store. Yuk, not the result I was aiming for.
Our new system is much better. I have a jar, and inside that jar are lots of pieces of paper. Each paper has a different reward on it. They include things like, getting to stay up 15 minutes later, getting to pick what’s for dinner, earning an extra tv show for the day, and so on. Those papers also include some that say, “one dollar.” Those dollar papers are for my kids to save. Once they reach twenty dollars they get to go to the store and get an item of their choosing, so long as it is under twenty dollars. I like this system because the kids never know what they are going to get. The suspense keeps them interested. The mom dollars (as we lovingly call them) are a great way to help reinforce saving habits.
In order to get to grab a paper from the jar, the kids have to act correctly. Random acts of kindness always get a chance at the jar. Following directions, doing what they are asked the first time, etc. Now they don’t always get to pick something out of the jar for listening, but if they do a great job listening all day, they do. When they do their chores without being reminded at all, they get to go to the jar as well. My kids are excited and are looking for ways to earn their chance at the jar all throughout the day. I love that not all of the rewards are huge, but they are still exciting enough to matter.