Using reward charts for kids

I got tired of having to constantly keep after my daughter, 7 and son, 5 to do the normal things after coming home from school, getting ready for bed and getting ready for school so we wrote out a task chart last night.

The kids were really excited, of course, since this was a new thing. For the first time ever my daughter got out of bed by herself this morning so she could get a check.

However, how do you keep the chart going? We plan on giving rewards, but haven’t defined them yet. Maybe an allowance or special dessert. They were so enthusiastic, especially my daughter than we’re going to reward them tonight and look at ways of keeping it going.

Does anyone have experience with this?

We used a version of this for our two boys. They were always wanting money, and were willing to do a chore to earn it, so we made up a list of chores and a price for each one. Only chores that actually needed doing were posted and prices for those chores were always the same unless some component of that chore varied. For example, tidying up the garage was one price, while the once a year garage clean out was priced higher. The chore had to be completed to adult satisfaction to be paid for, and there was no ‘starting it now and completing it later but give me the money now’ allowed.

We had a great deal of success with this. There was always something the boys wanted to buy or somewhere they wanted to go and there were no penalties for not doing things on the chores list if they were busy with other activities.

You should certainly give it a go with your kids. Just design it to be motivating to them - whatever that means in their minds.

Yes, we did it with ours.

A few tips:
-make sure you recognize the good/correct behavior as soon as you can
-try to be consistent
-consider end of the day acknowledgement (total up the checks, happy faces, whatever) and also end of the week. If they beat a total number for the day or week, they get something extra
-for daily prizes, stickers or hand stamps work great
-for bigger prizes (you got up all by yourself for a WEEK), you can set up a prize box (dollar store goodies) that they can pick from, or arrange something special (trip to the park or ??)
-try and avoid food rewards. Lots of reasons for that, including forming good habits for later in life, avoiding sugary treats, etc, etc
-keep it positive (yay -a star)
-do not take away stars when they are, um, not behaving correctly. They earned those stars. They won’t see it the same way you do. They’ll see it as a betrayal of the entire system. Time outs or something else for consequences is much better.

That’s all I got for now.

Just wanted to second this. Food = reward can lead to a lifetime of issues.

I’ve got two teens. They both need to chip in for their smart phones each month. We keep track on a chart of the chores they do - empty dishwasher, load dishwasher, wash dishes, clean bathroom, vacuum, dust, take out trash, etc. all pay a set amount. Bonus jobs like wash dog and mow lawn are there, too. There is ample opportunity to earn. At the end of the month they need to have earned enough to pay their share of the phone, or else it gets taken away until they can pay. Any extra is paid out in cash. They do not get allowance.

It can be helpful to determine what motivates your kids, depending on age, and use that as a lever. In my case, phones.

If I were you I think I might ask them for input on rewards. You might be surprised that they actually value a family game night above something from the store. Or a camping weekend to work towards instead of toys or treats.

I think there it could be telling to find out what they value, that doesn’t come from a store. But then I lean toward non materialistic rewards wherever possible myself. Starting them off with an, “I’ll buy you something!”, reward seems like a recipe for materialism for me. It might be better to train them that rewards can also be intangibles, at least to start, or as a combo with ‘things’ !

I’m going to come across as a geezer here, but honest-to-goodness, when we were kids, we did our chores because they were *our *chores. We all lived in the house and we had responsibilities for parts of the house. And we needed to know how to do those things because our parents certainly didn’t want us living there forever, unable to manage on our own. There were no charts or stars or rewards. There were, however, groundings and loss of privileges for slacking off. You want to go to the movies with your friends? Then you’d better be sure you’ve done what you’re supposed to do beforehand.

We had opportunities to earn extra money - I learned to press my dad’s suits so they didn’t have to go to the dry cleaners that often - win-win. My brother would polish Dad’s shoes. Washing the car was another extra.

Same deal with my daughter - she did her share, and as she got older, her share got larger. Then one day, she had her own place, and she knew how to clean and cook and do laundry and care for pets, and she didn’t need a chart and a gold star to do those things.

Maybe I’m wrong…

I grew up like FCM, but that didn’t work with my daughter. I had a chore chart for her, with prices associated with every chore. Making your bed? A quarter. Doing the dishes AND putting them away? Fifty cents. Cleaning her room? $5.00 (she was a VERY messy kid). Instead of paying money out to her weekly, we would sit down with her personal check register (it’s what I had), total everything up every Friday. Half of her earnings went into savings, she could either withdraw the rest, or keep a balance until she saved up for something she really wanted.

We tried a reward chart but it didn’t work for us. Our son figured out that, since you can’t lose points, he could do only the things he felt like doing, skip the things he didn’t, and he would still eventually accumulate enough points to get a reward. The obvious solution is to raise the number of points at which he gets an award, but then he loses any motivation since the rewards are too hard to get.

Our daughter just didn’t give a shit. There’s no reasonable reward that we can give her which will make her care enough to keep her room clean or help around the house. She weighs rewards against the misery of cleaning her room and always chooses to forgo the reward. What are we supposed to do? Provide out-sized rewards that aren’t commensurate with the task we’re asking her to do? Even asking her what reward would motivate her didn’t work. She wouldn’t even propose anything. She really doesn’t want to clean her room and will go down with that ship no matter what.

This system probably works better on children who aren’t sociopathic assholes.

I think the system does need consequences, but you have to figure out what motivates the kids. Stars do work for some kids.

On the other hand, now that my kids are older, we have a carrot and stick thing going on with my son. Do your chores and you get your allowance every week. Skip your chores, no allowance and we take away electronics time.

My daughter transitioned to payment for work a little more seamlessly. She does her chores. She gets her allowance. I expect this will blow into tiny pieces any second now. Now. Or now. She’s a teenager. We’ll see how it goes.

I grew up like you, except I had no opportunity to ever earn money, and I gotta say, I would have loved the reward chart. The other way it always felt negative and I would have loved the idea of celebrating even small positives in my life.

FairyChatMom, this is the stance my parents took on it - that I should simply do chores because I lived in the house. However, they also stressed over and over again, “MY house, MY rules”. The inconsistency of these two statements made me feel like an outsider. This was THEIR home huh, I’m just living here because none of us have another choice, so why should I take care of it FOR them? Eventually one summer I camped in the backyard instead because logically, if I wasn’t staying in their house, I didn’t have to follow their rules.

Now, you can call me an obstinate little shit and I was, but I told them a reward chart or positive rewards would motivate me and they constantly ignored this suggestion in favor of methods that didn’t work. Probably because it would entail listening to a child, and in their world adults don’t do that.

To this day money is still my primary method of motivation. If I hate whatever I’m working on, I just dream of the money I’m getting in return for working.

I was raised, and raise my son much the way FairyChatMom describes.

It seems to me that rewarding standard expected behavior, like getting out of bed or brushing teeth sets a precedent for kids expecting a reward for just showing up. Parenting is hard and sometimes you have to struggle with your kids to get them to do what’s right. Bribing them with rewards backfires when they decide the reward isn’t worth the effort. Then what do you do? Bigger and better rewards?

It seems to me that basic every day things should be done without reward. Opportunities to earn money or rewards would be things that are beyond what is reasonably expected for a child to do.

A combo is possible. My daughter (age 5) has responsibilities (such as making her bed, feeding the cat, putting away toys) that she is expected to do because I want her to be fit to live in human society, and then we have some extras. We don’t use a chart exactly, but it’s a similar concept – she can evaluate the extra jobs and decide what her strategy is. I like this, because she can’t decide “well okay, I don’t need the sticker and I’m cool with having a messy room.”

Oh, I should add that the extras are only available after her own responsibilities are taken care of. So she can’t blow off her room, and then go look for extra chores.

I would also side with FairyChatMom. The reward system is an easy short-term fix, but it sets up bad habits and improper expectations. Rewards should be for the extraordinary, not the ordinary.

I believe acknowledgement is ample reward. I confess to paying my kids for jobs they considered over and above their normal chores but I didn’t feel good about doing that. When my dad would start a project we automaticaly jumped into help, not sure why but he must have done something right. I would almost always have to ask my kids to jump in, not sure where I went wrong. They were always good about doing their basic chores and we seemed to let them slide at that most of the time.

Definitely kids should be acknowledged when they are doing things right. "Great job, remembering to brush your teeth this week without being told. They need to know we are noticing when they do things right.

The kind of “over and above” stuff I was thinking about are things that are basically my job, but I’m willing to pay my kid to do it for me. For example, needing to clean out/wash my car and not having the time or energy so offering my kid $20 to do it.

In terms of general parenting, I think you do what works best for you and your family. Full stop. If reward charts work well, I say go for it. If not, that’s OK too.

I have found that I simply don’t have the time and/or motivation to keep track of most reward/enforcement systems. Not to say that I don’t try it, but they tend to be fairly short-lived. The most important thing, and hardest, is to make it a habit.

Currently we’re trying out a system where kid #1 gets extra screen time per day depending on how many miles he ran the previous week. We’ll see how long it lasts…

I hear you on this. And kids are so funny, different kids will get different things out of the same parenting techniques. With the extra jobs that my daughter can do (she’s 5 so the incentive is usually activities instead of cash, although sometimes it’s Shopkins), what she’s focused on is the planning part – making the decision to do two little jobs or one larger job. Or if it’s three little jobs, breaking them down into 1/3, 2/3, 3/3 of the overall goal Which seem like super basic concepts, but for a 5 year old, it’s neat for me to watch her craft her approach, and make decisions about whether she should she do the least appealing task last, or get it out of the way first.

For what it’s worth, I also frame the incentive as less of a payment for services rendered, and more of a “wow, I would also really like to go to the zoo this weekend, but for that to happen, Household Tasks A, B, and C need to be finished in addition our other chores. What do you think about A, B, and C?”

When she actually has stuff she needs money for, $20 for washing/cleaning out the car sounds like a great deal.

I feel like my response is getting a little far afield of ToykoBayer’s original topic. But to bring it back there a bit, I would say that identifying the incentive based on something she was already expressing interest in (Mom, can we go to the zoo? Mom, can we see Inside Out?) worked well for us. The novelty of the stickers type of prize will wear off (unless it’s Shopkins), but kids are forever popping out with some thing or another they think we should do.

I think there are some great thoughts in this thread. Using a combo is great. Giving them extra things outside of normal is a great way to teach them planning and the beginnings of project management.

Not that y’all care but I like it! :slight_smile: