stumped. need ideas.

Jameson has been learning to do more and more little chores for me, and this fall I’d like to put it all together into a little daily chart for him. However, other than a star at the end of each [completed] day, I’m a bit stumped as to how to reward a 3 year old. I’d love for all of those shiny stars to add up to something at the end of the week, but I’m not sure what that “something” should be. When I was little, Mom could give us a dime, and we thought we were rich. We could actually buy something with a dime. But now, not so much.

Anyway. Ideas?

11 Comments stumped. need ideas.

  1. brietta

    We have a “Coupon Jar.” This is the second year we’ve used this system, and it’s still pretty exciting as far as the kids are concerned!

    Anyway, we have really simple coupons inside it. Things like:

    1. Go on a special errand with Daddy.
    2. Rent/borrow (from the library) a movie.
    3. Invite a friend over to play.
    4. Pick out dessert one night this week.
    5. Candy!

    They LOVE it, and they’re simple enough things that I can keep up with them (both financially and mentally!). Of course, it means that I have to guard our library-film-borrowing so that it’s a novelty, along with not giving them dessert much so that dessert that one night is extra special, etc.

    I know at some point the jar will be “old” and I’ll have to come up with something new, so I’ll definitely be checking back for more ideas.

    P.S. Do you have 401 Ways to Get Your Kids To Work Around the House?

  2. Tracy

    Different things work at different times.

    Right now he’s really into stickers so his reward at the end of a good week is to go buy a new pack at the dollar store. other times it has been a balloon from the $ store.

    During the summer, going to the “ice cream station” (fill ‘er up!) did the trick.

    I like the “invite a friend over” idea.

  3. Randi

    Candy works as a reward here since we’ve really only had candy as a reward or special treat. So, at the end of filling up a week a small candy works for us. We buy a bag on sale and keep it in the top of the cabinet where no one can really see it. Right now, there’s one out there that has all kinds of different bit sized candy bars like twix, snickers, milky way, etc. Very fun to pick out one for little kids, I think.

  4. Dottie

    Better than the “Dollar Store” is the $1 section as you enter Target! They actually have some pretty good toys/treats for a dollar in there and not just a few selections! Kids LOVE to look through all those bins!! You can even buy a few things there to make up a nice birthday gift for kids and not spend a lot of money! These type of incentives will never fail with kids! Keep up the good work! :o)

  5. Sarah Dunphey

    In my school-age program we use 2 marble jars…don’t know if you worry about marbles around the house, but they do look very pretty in the jars and you could easily substitute for larger (non-choking hazard) items… Jameson gets to transfer from one jar to the “reward jar(s)” when he completes something desired …you can use one or multiple size reward jars….and each jar can represent a different reward (just paste a picture of the reward on the empty jars so he gets it)..bigger jar bigger reward….then he has choice and gets to pick his own reward and is totally gratified in the act of physically moving the marbles….we find this physical act to be a very definitive reward with children of all abilities. We also try to stick to non-food rewards….small toys, stickers, or favorites… pick the (family) game at game night or an extra book (at bedtime). think about alone time with mommy/daddy as rewards, as well as little things that you are picking up for him anyway…paint sets, crayons, puzzles, workbooks. FUN…love reward systems…I am a VERY firm believer in reinforcing positive/desirable behaviors. Have fun….good luck.

  6. Carole

    I don’t have any suggestions to offer. Instead, I was wondering if one/some of you would share what types of chores you have your little ones doing and whether there is a “sticker” or “marble” for every task or for a group of tasks? I mean, with my 5 year old I think that he can get dressed, make his bed, clear his breakfast dishes, etc. and am too lazy to give every one of those a sticker. :)

  7. brietta

    Carole, I made a list of chores for each kid that needs to be done. One of them is “5 Fingers” and that includes their entire morning routine (hands & face, teeth & hair, get dressed, make your bed, pick up your bedroom). Others are emptying the dishwasher, collecting the trash from the bathrooms, sweeping the kitchen floor, clearing the various meal tables, and so on. I printed out a list with check boxes for each kid and then laminated it. They get a check mark for each chore that is done instantly, cheerfully, and thoroughly (for their age, anyway!). At the end of the week (we require chores 6 days/week), if they’ve gotten 90% of their check marks, they draw a coupon from the jar. We then wipe the laminated sheet clean and start the new week on Monday morning. The check mark seems to be pretty compelling, and the coupons are a huge hit. I don’t doubt that at some point they will be bored to death with the system, but for now it’s working and I’m just appreciating the fact that they often prompt themselves based on how they see their check boxes filling (or NOT filling!) up.

  8. darlenesinclair

    Everyone loves a reward — let’s face it, I doubt most people with jobs would continue without that paycheck at the end of the week!

    401 Ways To Get Your Kids To Work Around the House — this book was a lifesaver for me as a young mom trying to figure out what kids could and could not do. I wasn’t brought up doing many chores, so I was clueless! Highly recommend it for lists of chores to do, and ideas for chore charts with rewards.

    Over the years, I found I needed to “mix up” the charts and rewards systems for the sake of holding interest. I got bored, the kids got bored. So we did star stickers, check marks, “done” and “undone” envelopes, climb the beanstalk one leaf at a time, wheel charts, etc. All listed and illustrated in 401 Ways book.

    You can determine how many chores constitutes a reward — I couldn’t manage a reward for every chore (my kids had too many each day — we would have been doling out treats constantly) so they were rewarded for larger chunks of accomplishment. For ex.: a star for morning 5 finger chores, and a star for afternoon/evening chores. 10 stars = one reward.

    The wipe-able laminated version that Bri created is easier than constant production of charts. Even if you have a printer at home, for me, keeping up with that was undoing.

    The envelope system also avoids that constant reproduction of charts, as does the wheel. You still, however, need a method of recording daily accomplishment, not only for your sake, but theirs as well. It will keep them accountable. So, the laminated checkmark system works well.

    Be prepared to create and invent something with a fresh twist every now and then. Not new chores, necessarily, but a new method of record keeping. It makes it more fun for them.

  9. Carole

    Thanks for the ideas. (am I allowed to thank them, too, Danica?)

    Also, I wanted to give another caveat that my latest post is not in reaction to some of your lovely routine suggestions. :) I like them! Sometimes too much! And then I run away with the ideal and not the practical for where we’re at in our family today.

    Anyhow. After scrapping 2 “five finger” routines that I realized were based too much on what I think we ‘should’ be doing, as opposed to what we ‘are’ doing, I think we have a workable one to put on a chart.



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