We’ve used just about every reward chart and chore system in existence, from Supernanny charts or Melissa and Doug magnetic boards to homemade sticker posters and using change to teach money. In the end, we were bogged down with having too many systems–one for rewards and another for chores–and need a very visual way to accomplish both.
After a few months I can say the code has finally been cracked. Reward balls have been by far the best system we’ve used to reinforce positive behavior, institute chores for the kids and have even found a way to tie it into discipline. As a reference, our children are five and six.
Creating a Reward Balls™ System
Step 1: Purchase ping pong balls (Amazon.com) and a clear container (Walmart) and let the kids decorate the container.
Step 2: Fill your container with balls to see how many it will take to fill. From there decide how easy/hard it will be to receive balls and how often you would like to reward. For instance, our container fills to approximately 30 balls, so we are pretty liberal in giving them. I am confortable with a reward every other week, but this is just a guide.
Step 3: Decide how they will earn balls and, if you are tying in discipline, how they will loose them. “They” say to keep rewards positive, so we never took away stickers etc. but one of our goals was to streamline this system and, for us, taking away balls works. The take away is up to you of course….if you do it just don’t tell “them”. We use Magic 1-2-3 for discipline, so if we’re home and have access to balls, “3″ will often be the loss of a ball.
Step 4: Initiate! Tell them about the new system, create example scenarios and practice. The first time I actually took a ball away from my daughter cried her eyes out so be prepared. Now she is used to the system so there are no dramatics.
Example: We give balls for brushing hair without crying (a major score since balls alone have worked to accomplish this), making the bed, getting dressed 100% independently, two chores per day, learning time, caught being good (sharing, deep breaths to get calm, etc.).
Yesterday we hit Toys R’Us for a “reward surprises” as my daughter calls her reward. I let her roam the store for anything $15 or under. My son recently got a fish tank so his reward lately has been fish. We’ve also had ice cream parties, donut parties (they boy loves Dukin Donuts) or iPad apps if they are expensive ones ($4.99 and up for instance.)
For us, Reward Balls WORK and after a few years of trial and error, we’ve found a system to stick with permanently.