This is a guest post by Annette of Tips From a Typical Mom.

.  .  .  .  .

Child Reward System using puzzle pieces?

Why puzzle pieces you ask?

Well, I was looking for poker chips at our local thrift store, and could not find any. But I did find a ton of puzzles, and they are small, and there are a ton of them, and they are super cheap if you get them at a thrift shop, so Why NOT?!

I have always had some type of reward system for my kids, but none of them stuck.
I wanted a system that I could use to reward them for chores and good behavior.
I wanted a system that I could use to keep track of media time.
I wanted a system that would make them face consequences for bad behavior.
I wanted a way to track allowance and teach my kids that time is money!
I wanted a reward system that worked for ALL AGES of children.

This is what I came up with. We have been doing it for about 6 months now and it WORKS, and it STUCK! Yay!

Like I said before, I went to a thrift store and got a puzzle that had about 1,000 pieces. I got a little bucket to keep them in, and I was done! Well, not quite done yet. I had to come up with the system. After trial and error, I think we have it all worked out. I have included our reward chart for you to use in your home if you wish, or you can come up with one on your own.

You can download this one HERE. Or you can make up your own.

As you can see from the chart that the kids can earn tokens by doing their chores, getting caught being good, a clean bedroom every day, and a daily tidy up of the room they are in charge of for the week. Other things we added to the list in the fall were things like homework done, reading done, etc.

I also use the tokens to discipline my children when they make wrong choices, like fighting with their siblings, lying, not listening to mom or dad, etc. They really hate giving up their tokens and it makes them think twice.

For younger preschool aged children this system works really well. They are rewarded for good behavior (which they need a lot of) and I’m not so strict about taking tokens away for bad behavior. They have a hard time understanding this. This is when I take the time to talk to them about the fact that they will not be earning another token for the behavior they just demonstrated when they could have had a token for listening or being good. Obviously I would use simpler terms like: “Oh oh! I don’t like the way you are acting right now. You didn’t do what mommy asked you to do so you don’t get a token now. Dang it! Next time, if you listen, you can get a token, Okay!?” Or I use them as a bribe before we head into grocery stores or other public places. I let them know what is expected and say things like ” We are going in the store now. We are only buying groceries, no toys or treats. If you are really good, and don’t cry or yell, you can get 2 tokens when we get home! Okay?” And if the behavior isn’t the best I say, “Oh no! You are throwing a fit in the store, now you wont be able to get a token! Dang it!” I always remind them what the tokens are for and what they can get with them to help them stay focused.

For older children, the thing I love most, is the control I have over time spent on media. Media in my home includes anything that runs on a battery (cell phone, iPod) or has to be plugged in (TV, XBox). The kids have to use the timer and when 15 minutes is up, they have to get off or pay more tokens, depending on what mom says.

My children are in charge of keeping track of their own tokens, which teaches them organization and management. When we go to a store and my kids say, “Can I get a treat mom?” or “Can I PLEEAASSEEE get this?” I say, “How many tokens do you have?” So simple. If they have enough, they pay me when we get home. I also remind them that if they spend all their tokens, they are sacrificing other things. Works like a charm. They usually contemplate how much they want to spend.

This has really worked for my family especially since money has been tight. I am not paying for so many little things anymore. The kids are thinking more about what they spend their tokens on. They are learning priorities. They are learning that their behavior has consequences, good or bad. And I LOVE it!

.  .  .  .  .

Annette Belnap is a proud mommy of 5 awesome kids. She teaches preschool and dance and is also a photographer. She is the author of Tips From a Typical Mom, a blog where she shares her ideas about motherhood, family friendly recipes and activities and ideas that have worked for her and her kids. You can find her on Pinterest, Facebook and Twitter.