To reward or not to reward? That is the question

Like most mums, I’ve tried everything there is to get my children to tidy their rooms/get dressed for school/eat all the food on their plate/do their teeth (*delete as appropriate). It’s hard work! When they were little we could get away with sticker charts. Over the years we’ve tried lots of behaviour reward systems, with varying degrees of success.

I can’t get no sleep

Sleep has been a big problem for us lately. Which is ironic as I’m coincidentally writing this on World Sleep Day! For one of my children she finds it impossible to get to sleep and for the other, he finds it impossible to stay asleep. If I’m honest, my youngest is now 7 and still rarely sleeps through the night. But as we all know sleep is for wimps. Or at least that’s what I tell myself.

When I’m cleaning windows

I’m also super keen for my two to help around the house. I don’t want to be ‘that’ mum who doesn’t teach her children how to survive in life and sends them off into the big wide world. They need to know how to boil an egg or wash up properly. So they help me put the washing on (with my supervision) and clear the kitchen table after tea. It turns out they are both excellent window cleaners (indoors only – it would be irresponsible for me to get them up a ladder!).

Shake your pom poms

But as fellow parents know, it’s not that simple to get children to help out or stay in their own beds (tell me I’m not the only one!). So I keep having to reinvent behaviour rewards systems in the hope that they work. Last month they both collected pom poms in a jar. At the end of the month my son had saved enough for a computer game and and my daughter had earned a backpack. To be fair it worked. My youngest was better at staying in bed and my eldest really tried her best to get to sleep. But as my husband pointed out, we can’t give away that many pom poms each month or we’ll be spending hundreds of pounds on rewards each year, which we don’t agree with!

Here are my top tips for fun and cheap ways to rewards your children:
  1. Before you agree what you are going to give as a treat, work out how many rewards they can earn each day and how they can lose them. That way the children know where they stand and you won’t argue about it
  2. Money doesn’t grow on trees so don’t make it about buying something. It worked for us the first time, but I don’t want them thinking they will be bought something each month. A reward could be having a cinema day at home – close the curtains, pop on a DVD (which they choose) and crack open the popcorn
  3. Get creative – As the weather is getting warmer, picnics and park trips are a fab reward that doesn’t cost a lot. Let them choose where they want to go and help make and pack the picnic, including their favourite treats
  4. Make it fun – don’t use the reward system as the stick – it should be used as a carrot. Use it to encourage good behaviour. It’s not fun for anyone if you are threatening to take the rewards away every 10 mins
  5. Let them choose what they want to be rewarded for. That way children are bought into it from the beginning. If I had a pom pom taken away from me every time I lost my temper, it wouldn’t encourage me to change. So by giving them the control, it makes it work for everyone

There are so many other ways to reward your children and remember everyone is different. So choose what works for you and your children and ignore what others say! Right, I’m off for a quick nap.

This post was sponsored by TokensFor but all views and tips are my own.