Many children, tweens, and teens need an immediate tangible reinforcement in order to follow through to successfully complete assigned tasks.  Try these eight steps to increase desired behaviors.

1. Buy a roll of movie tickets at Walmart or Target.

2. Make a list of jobs and chores you often ask your child to perform.

  • Setting the table
  • Folding Clothes

Consider making a set of chore cards for your child.

Make a list of daily tasks that are normally a problem for your child to complete

  • Getting ready for school
  • Getting ready for bed
  • Washing, bathing, brushing teeth

Decide what you think each chore and self-help task is worth in tickets.

  • For 4- to 5-year-olds assign 1-2 tickets for most tasks, and maybe 5 for big jobs.
  • For older children, use a range of 1-10 tickets, and perhaps more for big jobs.

The harder the job, the more you pay.

3. Next, sit down and explain to your child that you think that she has not been rewarded enough for doing nice things at home and you want to change all that.

Tell her that you want to set up a new reward program so she can earn privileges and things for behaving properly.

Explain to your child that when you do your work, you get paid so you can buy things you need and want.  When you don’t do your work, you don’t get paid and you can’t buy things you need and want.

4 Tell your child that she will earn tickets for jobs that are completed on the first request. If you must repeat a command, she will not earn tickets for doing it. Be sure to tell your child that he will have a chance to earn “bonus” tickets when he performs a task in a prompt and pleasant manner.

5. Work with your child to make a list of 10 – 15 privileges that will motivate her.

Include special occasion privileges:

  • Going to the movies
  • Ice skating,
  • Buying a toy, game, or book.

Include everyday privileges your child takes for granted:

  • Watching TV
  • Playing video games

6. Make a rewards menu that you and your child can refer to on a regular basis.

Add up about how many tickets you think your child will earn in a typical day if she does most of these jobs.  Considering this number, decide how many tickets your child should pay for each privilege you have listed.  Generally, your child will spend about two-thirds of the daily tickets earned on his or her typical daily privileges.  This allows your child to save about one-third of his tickets for the purchase of some of the very special rewards on the list.

Don’t worry about the exact numbers to use here.  Use your best judgment about how much each reward/privilege should cost.  Be fair and charge more tickets for special rewards and less for daily privileges.

7. You and your child should make a nice bank to keep the tickets earned:

  • Shoe Box
  • Coffee Can (with a dull edge on the rim)
  • Plastic Jar
  • Any other safe container

Have fun decorating the bank with your child!

8. Follow-through and give those “bonus” tickets as you promised.  Be alert for opportunities to reward your child.

Do not take tickets away for misbehavior during the first week so that your child can start to build up a bank of tickets.   The post Economics 201 explains this next step.

NOTE: This is not bribery! The definition of bribery is paying someone to do something illegal. This is basic economics as explained in item #3.