As parents, we are always trying to come up with ideas to solve some of our biggest struggles. Occasionally, we are lucky and we find the right fit the first time we try it. However, it often doesn’t work that way. We must sometimes set aside one idea and be open to trying something new. That was the case with us.
We needed a way to help teach our kids responsibility. That meant using a responsibility chart. We gave this a good try (around 18 months). This was great for helping them do their chores regularly. But, we wanted to do further than that.
We wanted our kids to learn how to take initiative to help around the house. In addition, we felt that they did not really appreciate the time we allowed them to spend on their iPad, watching TV or using the computer. Both of us knew that there had to be a way we could do this. But how?
Then, I recalled reading a friend’s Facebook status. She mentioned that she had bought tickets for rewards. I thought that sounded like an awesome idea. She mentioned that her son would earn them for doing the things she and her husband agreed upon and he would be able to redeem them for time spent playing video games. That got me thinking (which can often be a very scary thought). What if we tried that?
The more I thought about this idea, the more I liked it! I started thinking about the book fairs and school events which cost money. There were the snacks and other things they wanted when we went to movie night at our school or the theater. I thought of the presents they needed to buy for friends’ birthday parties.
I then took my thought process another direction — earning additional rewards. This system could be used to help with screen time, staying up late….and so much more! Like I said, it can be scary when the thinking gets started. What if we could offer a system where they earned money to get all the other things they needed? After all, we were going to pay for them anyhow, so why not make the kids earn the right to get those perks? Again….tickets seemed to fit the bill!
And – what about fines!? What if they had to pay me tickets when they did not do the right thing. Maybe if they did not do a chore or they were fighting??
The ideas were endless…..and that resulted in our starting our Ticket Reward & Fine Method.
Other helpful parenting articles:
- Using Toy Jail to Teach Kids Responsibility
- How to Get Started Using Responsibility Charts with Your Kids
- Why You Need Life Insurance on the Stay-at-Home Parent
THE TICKET REWARD SYSTEM FOR KIDS
The first thing you need for your ticket reward system are the tickets. I found some at Target that had smiley faces on them. Best of all – they were affordable! If you want to check them out, they are available on Amazon (and come in all sorts of fun colors).
Next, I found some jars and removed the lids. I allowed the kids to use markers and personalize their own ticket jar. That way, they’d all know which one was theirs!
The kids each know where to store their tickets as they are earned (and are where they need to be when they lose a ticket).
EARNING TICKET REWARDS
We sat down as a family and determined HOW the kids would earn tickets. The first thing they learned was that they would not earn tickets for doing the things that were expected of them. That included chores such as making their bed, getting dressed for school, picking up their rooms, etc.
We told them that those are things that they must do as a member of our family. However, we told them that if they do not do the things they need to for living in our house, they could lose a ticket! (You should have seen the looks that we got when we told them that)!
They each have regular chores they must do, but we added a few additional things to their lists. We told them that they would be responsible for that task and that when they saw it needed to be done, it would be their responsibility to do it. They also understood that we did not expect them to remember these on their own, so we would remind them.
The task would need to be completed when we told them about it. If they did it without complaint, they could earn a ticket. We set the limit to four additional tickets each week.
They asked us how they could earn more tickets. My husband and I explained that if they did things without being asked, such as picking up the family room, they could earn a ticket. They could earn tickets if they were helpful to one another and treated others with respect.
We stressed that these bonus tickets were optional and that they would not get tickets just for being nice. They had to always be respectful and they may get tickets from time to time. (We did not want them being nice solely for getting tickets).
LOSING TICKETS THROUGH FINES
Not only did our kids find out how they could earn tickets, but they also were told how they would lose them. When they fought or sassed, they’d lose a ticket. If they did not do what we asked them to do, they would lose a ticket. Complain about bedtime? Lose a ticket!
We also told our kids that there were offenses which would cost more than one ticket – such as yelling, disrespecting us, temper tantrums and the like. These offenses will start at cost of 2 tickets — and could go up from there!
CASHING IN TICKETS
Since we were not handing them money, we had to assign a value to the tickets. The tickets were used for things we normally buy for them like book fair items or presents for birthday parties. My husband and I decided that we would provide clothes and shoes for them and the food on the table, but that was it.
As far as the ticket value, my husband and I looked at our monthly spending and did an estimate and determined how many tickets we thought they’d earn on average in each month. We decided to start the value out at $1/ticket, full well knowing that if they turn into the perfect children we know they can be, there may be a downturn in the market and the tickets may lose half of their value.
We did not want our kids to just think that tickets were a way to spend only on themselves. The idea was to also make sure they used them to help others. They learned that each week they would cash in 1 ticket and would receive $1 which they could place into the donation plate at church.
We even set up a savings schedule. At the end of each month, they must look at the tickets they have available. They each had to cash in 10% of the tickets, which we converted to cash. This had to be deposited into their savings accounts.
To ensure that they always save, the kids were never allowed to drop below 15 tickets in their jar at any time (one they earned that amount). They learned to budget and understand that they can’t spend everything they make. They are forced to save before they can spend.
TICKETS FOR REWARDS
Now that our kids knew how to cash in tickets for goods and money, we decided to entice them even more. We added in a way for them to cash in tickets for rewards!
They currently are allowed a certain number of electronics time every day (outside of what is needed for school). If they want more time than allowed, they can get that – but they must use tickets! If they cash in 1 ticket, they can get another 30 minutes of screen time (but are limited to no more than 1 hour of bonus screen time a day).
Another fun reward we added was staying up late! They all have bedtimes – even on the weekends (although, the weekend time is a bit later). We decided that if they wanted to stay up later, they could do so – but they would have to pay with a ticket!
So, why did we change what we were doing to help our kids learn responsibility? We know our kids and when they have something tangible, at the moment, they can relate much better. They feel the ticket in their hand when they do what they are supposed to do but they know I can take one out of their buckets if I need to as well. Seeing that exchange hits home much more than a check mark on a chart. They can’t hold a check mark. They can’t see it taking away from what they have.
Will they earn a ticket for every little thing they do? No. There are things that they need to do just for living here which do not warrant tickets. We are starting out by rewarding them for more — to get them to understand how the process works. As time goes on, the reasons for earning tickets will change. The way you handle chores with a 4-year-old is much different than a 10-year-old. The system grows with them.
We’ve used the ticket reward and fine method for a while and it amazes me at how effective it is. Now, I simply say “TICKETS” and my kids know that they better listen up!!