My mom always told me that giving birth is painful for only a day or two, but raising a child is a life-long responsibility that is filled with love, laughter, worries, and even pain. Isn’t that true? This life-long responsibility includes parenting.
Parenting is one of the most important keys for raising a child successfully. For the Chinese, parenting is very important in a family. We say that if a child didn’t receive any parenting, it is the parents’ fault. For me, I am always trying to find a good balance between parent-led and child-led parenting styles and methods to allow my children to choose right and wrong and to understand that consequences always follow.
Today, I’m going to talk about my family’s reward system which works well for us with multiple children of different ages.
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I have three young children all under the age of six. I need a reward system that works for all of them. I didn’t really want to have three different reward systems for each of them.
The inconsistency, losing interest, and spending extra time keeping track of everything were killing me. Kids change their interests so often that it’s hard to catch up. Sometimes they love cats, but after a week of watching a new tv program about robots, they suddenly decide they like robots instead. And then after they receive new pirate toys, they change their minds again. It’s an endless game for parents. So putting up stickers, charts, progress records, and other methods of rewards don’t really fit our needs right now.
I need a Reward System that
- Younger kids will really love and want to do.
- Is simple enough for children of varying ages to understand.
- Won’t take kids too long to receive rewards.
- Promotes good behaviors.
- Is easy for mothers to be consistent about.
- Is low cost and easy to prepare.
How this NEW Reward System Works
I decided to pick something that ALL the kids love: Balls! I have never heard of a kid who doesn’t like balls. Have you? Most toddlers are obsessed with balls or ball-shaped things, and, of course, they also love colors, so I decided to use cheap, colorful pom-poms for our new reward system. Here’s what I did and how you can do it too!
Materials You Will Need
What You Need to Do
1. Choose your jar:
For young children, I would not recommend getting a very small or a very large container. Our purpose is to give the kids a reasonable challenge but also promote self-confidence at the same time. For this to work, timing is a key because you want to promote their good behavior and keep them interested in the program. If they can receive a reward in less than a week, then it is not challenging enough, and the bad behaviors may start again. However, if it takes them too long to earn the reward, they may lose interest or excitement and just give up. I think for my children that, ideally, it should take them 2-3 weeks to earn the reward, but it is up to you to decide what works best for you children. Once you decide how long it should take for your child to earn a reward, pick an appropriate jar size.
2. Buy pom-poms:
The most common choices from Amazon are 0.5 inch, 1 inch, and 1.5 inches. I love them for everything because they are cheap, fluffy, soft, and colorful. My kids love doing crafts or just playing with them. I bought the 1-inch pom-poms from Taobao which I think are the perfect size for my jars.
3. Set Goals:
Write each child’s name on a label and put it in their jar. Show your children their jars and explain that they are going to do a wonderful activity where they can pick their own reward.
Next, ask each of your children what are three things that they want to do better in order to earn their reward. Try to help them evaluate their own behaviors and decide what their goals could be. You can do more or less than three goals, but remember that you want to keep this activity challenging but do-able. Try to avoid making this a to-do list or chore-list jar for them too.
For example, my oldest child decided to: (1) say “Yes, Mom!” whenever I ask her to do something, (2) practice piano on her own for 15 minutes, and (3) go to sleep on her own.
After you and your child pick their goals, write them on a piece of paper. Stick the paper on the jar so that the words are visible through the jar. Put the jar in a place that your child can easily see and access it, for example in the living room, or on a bookshelf.
4. Game on:
Each morning, remind your child of their goals and get them all excited about the reward system. You can even talk about what reward they would like when the jar is filled.
Whenever they successfully do their goal, give them a pom-pom right away to put in their jar. Also, don’t forget to praise them and encourage them to keep doing the good behavior.
I sometimes will give them an extra pom-pom if they volunteer to do something or do something incredible. This way they know that they did the right thing and will want to do it again.
5. The jar is FILLED:
When their jar is filled, make it a big announcement, ring a bell, or even have a pom-pom dance to celebrate the success and effort you and your child have put in. I like to have my child empty their jar and praise them for all of the pom-poms they earned. You could also talk about the process of how they earned their reward and see how they felt about it. You can use their feedback to make adjustments the next time if necessary.
After praising your child for completing the task, pick a reward. I like to give them a few options for rewards, such as go for an ice cream date, pick a coloring book, or have an adventure with daddy. Here are some other ideas for meaningful but low-cost rewards.
6. Start Over:
Once the jar is empty, have your child start filling it again and working towards their goals. Depending on your situation, you may want to stay with the same goals for a few rounds so your child can have plenty of practice. For example, I like to keep goals for about four jars/rounds, but feel free to change goals whenever and as often as you like. It really depends on how fast you feel your child is learning the good behaviors. Also, sometimes kids aren’t ready to change certain behaviors. If your child hasn’t mastered a goal after a few times because it is bad timing. In that case, don’t be afraid to change goals and try that one again a few months later.
How Do We like this Reward System?
There are ups and downs – sometimes my kids do really well, and sometimes they don’t do as well. However, they have a jar to remind them of their goals, and they have a way to make things better and make everyone happy. In general, I think my kids are happier and have more self-confidence because they know they can do it on their own. An added bonus is that we also get to strengthen our relationship with the kids because we get to go on more dates and adventures with them each time they fill their jar.
I also like that I am able to adjust the number of goals each of my three children works on. For example, my oldest daughter has four goals, but her 4-year-old sister has three, and their 2-year-old brother doesn’t have any but he gets a pom-pom anytime he does something good. Even though he doesn’t have any specific goals, he understands the game, so I think this will be useful when we start potty training.
Overall, I think this system works for my family. My kids and I love it, and I hope it will work for your family too!
What kind of reward system have you tried before?
Which reward system do you like best?
You Might also be Interested in:
1. 25 Privileges You Can Let Your Child Earn for Good Behavior (educationandbehavior.com)