If you’re looking for a unique reward system that not only encourages and motivates, but also teaches money management, math, the importance of hard work and other life lessons/skill, this system may be just what you’re looking for. I’m often asked how we get our children to do as much work and work as hard as they do all week at school, especially the youngest…. It’s this system! As I have said many times before, I’m not an expert at any of this. I’m simply a mom sharing what has worked for our family in hopes it helps others in some way, but this is definitely one of the things I have created that I’m most proud of. We have tried a lot of reward systems and motivation techniques over the years but none have worked even half as well as this has for us. I wanted our system to be educational, teach life skills as well as encourage hard work and good behavior. Finding a system that incorporates all of that is rare, and I didn’t care much for the few I did find. It can definitely seem like a lot or look intense at first, but once people hear the full details and thought process behind it they really seem to like it, and a few have even asked me to assist them in setting it up for their children. Their positive feedback is the reason I chose this for my first “article” after receiving several request to start posting article like blog post as well and “give people something to read”. I don’t know about everyone else, but I get a lot of criticism when people find out we homeschool, a lot of unwanted comments. Like every parent, we’ve gotten our share of remarks on our parenting style. There’s always someone that thinks they know better when it comes to how you choose to raise your children. But the one thing I always get positive feedback on is this reward system. One of the most liked things about this system is how it can be altered to suit each child/family. You really don’t need to use every part of it, you can pick and choose the parts that interest you!
I know this is long and may seem like a lot, but I really did my best to explain everything in great detail, as clearly as possible while also giving plenty of examples and photos. I think it’s worth the read to know all of the info I have provided to really understand why I have chose to do everything the way I have. However if you don’t want to or choose not to read everything for whatever reason and just want the details of the reward system, simply scroll to the download photos at the bottom and download one of the two reward tag packs. Both packs contain every tag pictured here as well as the tag and reward system details without the info behind the creation of the system offered below. It’s also a good download to have if you ever want to share any of it, go back over or check the info later for whatever reason. So without further ado…. My first official “article”, the reward/behavior system I have developed over the years and have had great success with. I do hope it offers some kind of help.
I originally got the idea for this whole thing from a TedTalk I seen years ago about parenting, I can’t recall everything they talked about, but the main points stuck with me and were the templates for developing this system. Over the years I have added and tweaked the system to include things that teach other skills and life lessons as well, but it all started with this one 20 min talk from a couple that helped me view my children’s lives and my parenting choices in a way that hadn’t occurred to me. I will do my best to explain further below, but what spoke to me the most was them pointing out how so many parents (myself included to some degree until seeing the TedTalk) brush off and/or minimize their children’s stressful/difficult situations because to an adult it’s really not a big deal. A lot of us forget that we once felt as though our world was ending over things we know to be trivial in comparison to what we have to deal with now. But, our children have yet to experience the hardest things we have, so to them those “insignificant” things are the hardest things. Their feelings are justified in comparison so to speak. Like I said I think it’s important to know the points made and views they had that really spoke to me to understand, but I think it’s also important if you decided to use the system yourself because it does require some customizing for each family/child and the info below will help guide that and make things much easier in my opinion. I know I’m not going to explain this as well as the TedTalk did, (I wish I could just find the video to share but sadly I have had no luck finding it) but I’m going to do my best for ya’ll, you can always contact me with any questions you may have and I’ll do my best to explain better/differently and/or clarify. Bear with me, here we go….
The first point was giving your children the “illusion of choice” which in turn gives them a sense of control over their lives rather than always feeling as though they are just being ordered around and rarely or never heard. Everyone wants to feel in control in their lives, children are no different. Think about how little of a say most children do have if they get one at all. It doesn’t occur to a lot of adults because one of our jobs as parents is to make decisions for our children to keep them safe and/or on the right path, but we must remember it’s also our job to teach them to think for themselves. We make so many choices for them that some of us tend to forget or don’t think about that. It can make it harder for them to learn that lesson and to develop and feel safe having their own opinions if they are never given the opportunity and/or put into situations to do so. Giving your child a sense of control over their lives by presenting options that you have already deemed appropriate is a great way to help them learn those skills while also letting them feel heard. Start with small things for younger ages like choosing between 2 outfits you have already put together or what subject to work on first in school. Gradually move to bigger things as they grow, slowly helping them find their voice and feel less “minimized” while learning to think for themselves and make good choices. More importantly, you’ll be teaching them that it’s okay to think think for themselves and/or think differently and be who they are because they are loved and accepted no matter what their opinions may be. I did/do my best to remember that when creating and adjusting the system, and it’s another thing others now using this system seemed to favor as well. I do my best to give the child/children a chance to have an input on as much as possible in their lives, I do the same when it comes to this system. I have them tell me what they want to get out of the system and do my best to work it in with what we want as parents. Getting to have opinions lets them feel more in control (and they are in a way here) but the options they are given ultimately are things I and the other parents would do/allow anyway if the kids asked so no worries for us parents. Illusion of choice, choosing from several things we have already deemed acceptable…. They just don’t know that, at least not right away. They also get to choose when they do the things they have chosen, which is where the biggest sense of control comes from the most for the kiddos.
The other big point for me was them explaining their view on how parents react when the feel their children get upset “unnecessarily” and/or say things like “this is the worst thing ever” about things we as adults see as tedious or unimportant. Think back to a younger you dealing with the things your child is now. You probably felt the same way then as they do now. For them it really is the worst when they weigh it against the only other things they have been through or dealt with in their short life up to that point. Which again, to us may not seem like big things, but in their lives those other “small” things are all they have to compare it to. With the little responsibilities they have and the things they have experienced small situations can seem big. It’s understandable when you think about it, at least to me. They may not have the big stressors we do but the stressors they do have can feel the same for their stage of life and age by comparison. View school as your child’s job. Their school stress is their version of our work stress. School can present the same levels of stress at their ages (even homeschool) as you might get at your job. Of course they don’t have (or shouldn’t have) the same amount of things stressing them, but they do have stress and minimizing it can be frustrating for the child. Keeping that in mind, we try to find the adult equivalent for the situations in our children’s lives in an attempt to understand/empathize with them better and therefore parent them better as well. We were that age once, we felt the same way. We went through similar or even the exact things they are, we just have to remind ourselves of that sometimes. That part of the speech really stuck with me. I remember so many different situations in my younger years that I felt were hard or the worst in the world, and at that time they were. I also remember how much it sucked (for lack of a better word) having adults treat it as nothing and insignificant. Telling me I was over reacting, being dramatic, or (the worse in my opinion) if I couldn’t handle that I was never going to make it as an adult. Having adults tell me I had no idea what stress really was, what love really is, what hard really feels like, etc didn’t help and at times did make me feel so much worse and even lowered my confidence. It made me feel as though no one was even trying to understand my point of view or hearing me. Remembering all of that was a huge factor in not only developing this system, but how I parented from that point on and still is as I tweak the system with age and in every parenting chose I make now. We treat our children like young adults from the very beginning and I deeply regret not doing it sooner with my older children. There is definitely a difference in our parent child relationships with all of our children now, it’s so much better and everyone is much happier!
This whole system was/is designed to prepare our children for real world situations while taking into consideration how they feel about everything going on in their lives at that current age and what things we’d like them to learn in life and school. The older two have out grown this almost completely, (we do still have a system for them slightly built off this) the youngest is the only one we have now still using this system 100% and I am constantly tweaking it as the kiddo grows. No matter how I adjust it the main ideas do stay the same, incorporating life skills while encouraging a work ethic. The system can be divided into two parts, behavioral encouragement and school/educational encouragement.
Obviously this isn’t going to work for every child or be a good fit for every family. Every child/family is different, there’s no one size fits all reward system or motivation technique, but as I said I have had great success with it for years now, as have those I helped set it up for their children. Don’t get me wrong, we still have our bad days when the kids just aren’t feeling it and/or want to argue and/or try to get out of their work somehow, (they are still kids and nobody is perfect of course) but this system has absolutely decreased all of that significantly and I couldn’t be happier with the results!
Part one, behavioral: This part is pretty straight forward, easier/faster to explain since it’s fairly similar to several others out there already. We have a magnetic calendar we use to track behavior. It’s the kiddos responsibility to keep track and mark everything, but I do keep track on my phone in case the kid has a forgetful day. I made good/bad Star Wars character magnets (the ones I used are pictured below) that are used to mark each day. If kiddo had a good day, didn’t get into any real trouble, did the work, behaved as we expect (not perfect but at least trying, everyone’s expectations are different for good/bad days) then a Yoda or R2D2 go on that day, if not a Storm Trooper or Darth Vader goes on that day. At the end of the week, every Friday before we “shop” (explained in part two below as is the store, tag and money references mentioned here in part one) the good/bad guys are counted then removed and placed at the top of the calendar to be used for the next week. If there are more good than bad a unicorn goes on that Friday. If there’s more bad than good a diva dragon is placed on that Friday and $5-$20 (amount based on why the bad guy was received) per bad guy is taken off what was earned that week. Getting a diva dragon means there’s no shopping that week, and can possibly lead to grounding or more money being docked, which has only happened twice that I can recall. If every week there’s a unicorn at the end of the month then kiddo gets to choose a “big” prize. The big prize choices given are one big ticket item from the school store for free, one of the more expansive “tags” for free, or “money” (typically $100) to add to that weeks pay or to save up to buy more/bigger “tags” and store items, kiddos choice. I included a download with the Star Wars and other pintables we used to make the markers/tags to track the behavior (pictured below) as well as a download with a few extras for the calendar like holiday and birthday markers/tags.
Part two school: This part of the system is longer and has more details, but this part is also the reason the kids to do not only assigned work but extra credit that they actually ask to do all on their own! As I said, we try to compare their life situations to an equivalent adult life situation, we view school as their job. When an adult does a job they get a pay, therefore kiddo(s) gets a “pay” for doing their job. When I first started designing this I used a point system written on index cards, (pictured below) being flat broke it was the best I could do at the time. Since then I have accumulated better supplies and gadgets that make it possible to create better things for my children and their schooling. I switched to using fake money as soon as I could, which was always the plan for this system. Currently we are only using bills but I plan to add in coins at some point as well. By using money rather than points the kids are learning to practice good spending habits, how to save, how to do the math as they spend and/or save, the value of each bill, etc. They are paid different amounts ranging from $1-$20 per subject/lesson per day. I base the amount received for each on the level of difficulty they have with the subject/lesson and adjust it accordingly as we move forward. For example, writing practice (ABC’s, numbers, name 5 times done 7 days a week) takes about 1 min a day, it’s currently the easiest and quickest thing we do daily so it’s only worth $1 per page. The kid is awesome at math, picks it up very fast, but absolutely hates doing it so that one is currently priced at $20 per page or $20 for every 30 minuets spent on an approved math app. There’s also a white board above my desk so dad and the other siblings can mark any extra work they may do with the kiddo. I’m the one that sets all of the amounts so it’s easier for them to just mark what’s been done rather than trying to add it to the total at the end of the week. I add up all of the work on payday which is every Friday. After the kid is paid it’s time to “shop” with a few exceptions. One being getting grounded, a rarity for the youngest but it happens. Getting grounded means waiting until the next week to “shop” and possibly losing some or all of the earned “money” that week depending on the reason for the grounding and over all attitude while grounded. People get docked pay or even get demotions at work all the time for bad behavior or other issues, so the kids do too. If there’s any money left over or kiddo decides to save for something the money goes in little wallets each kid has for the extra money and they have to keep up with it. If the money and/or wallet gets lost it will not be replaced.
There’s 2 ways to shop. The first way to shop is for “tags”. When we started doing the tags they were mad from actual hanging shopping tags, so even though they are now magnets we still call them tags. The tags were/are made based on things the kid(s) requested, things I know they enjoy, things we would do anyway or wouldn’t mind them doing if we didn’t use this system they asked. The tags are priced based on the level of excitement they bring and how much motivation they inspire to each child. I adjust them accordingly as the interest changes and as the child grows. There are always a couple of tags that are priced fairly high (the “big ticket” tags as we call them) because the kiddo will work the hardest to buy them. I do this to teach patience, savings, and the value of hard work. Tags can be redeemed throughout the week but only after all school work is completed for the day. The adult equivalent being that you can only do the fun things after your work day is over. You can’t watch TV, game, sit around snacking etc. at most jobs. Some tags have additional stipulations and/or limits as well, and if kiddo is grounded or having a bad attitude day that may prevent redeeming certain or all tags. It’s rare as well, but it happens to the best of us right? We have a saying in our house; “you do good you get good, you do bad you get bad.” Sometimes in life we make bad choices that lead to bad results for a number of different reasons. It can prevent you from having fun and/or prevent you from doing whatever you want in you’re free time. My husband likes to joke that the adult equivalent to being grounded is jail lol, but really we just want to teach the kids to think things through especially when put in a position that could easily get them in trouble if they don’t handle it right/well. I want them to understand that life has consequences, good and bad while leaning how to handle themselves when they do get in trouble, because lets face it they are going to get in trouble and make mistakes, we all do. I want them to learn to react calmly, not to escalate or make things worse, just accept the punishment and try to be better next time. My other most used saying; “you don’t have to be perfect just better than yesterday.”
The other way to shop. We have a small spot set up in our school room we call the “school store”. Every so often we put various things in it that can be purchased on Friday’s along with the tags. Everything in the store is priced differently based on how much the kiddo wants that specific thing, how motivated kiddo is to work and buy it. Most of the things we put in there are little dollar store items (kiddo is still little enough to enjoy that stuff lol) Wal-Mart clearance items, used movies/games from the resale shops etc. Like the tags, there’s always one or two “big ticket” things as well also priced pretty high for the same reason. There’s also a treasure chest in the school store filled with stickers, tattoos, quarter machine things and other small items. It’s mostly used for getting a small reward for winning at one of the educational games I have made, but kiddo can also choose from 3 different size goodie bags and fill them up with things from the chest. The bags a priced differently based on how much they can hold and there’s no limit to how many can be bought, we just remind kiddo that if the chest gets emptied it may be a while to get filled again or there might not be anything good left to get when winning games. I added photos below of some examples of things we put in the school store and treasure chest. Costumes and masks are always a big hit. We get 20 or more every year on sale after Halloween for $2-$6 so they can last in the school store for months. The youngest has quite a dress up collection!
If they want extra money they do extra work just as if an adult wanted more money they pick up more hours, side work or multiple jobs. We give them the option of doing extra credit work if they’d like to earn more money to buy the bigger things quicker from the store, more tags etc, without having to save and wait. There’s a minimum daily requirement for each subject but no max limit so long as everything assigned that day gets done before diving into extra work. Which means, depending on the level of motivation that week, they could make enough money to buy everything in the store if they so choose or all of the available tags. I keep a binder for each subject with extra worksheets and workbooks I find in stores randomly that can be done at anytime on their own to earn more “money”. I feel it shows real responsibility (especially for the youngest who, at such a young age does more work than any of the kids) to choose to do extra work, typically without even asking for help. I pay them a little extra/more than the daily assigned work for anything extra. Kinda of like an adult getting bonuses at work for doing an exemplary job, going above and beyond, or even to show how valued they are as an employee. The extra amount varies depending on how hard the work was, how well they did and if they asked for help or figured it out on their own. They get a little more money just for the attempt, but for anything they really succeed at they get a significant amount more, especially if its something we haven’t even covered yet and they figure it out on their own without any adult help! I want them to know that they are not only valued but how proud I am of them for doing work they didn’t have to do and making good choices.
Below I have enclosed photos/examples, short descriptions, and more details of the tags and rewards we have chosen to use over the years. I also added a FREE download containing all the tags listed for anyone that would like to use them. They aren’t all going to be a good fit for everyone, but you can obviously print and use only the ones you’d like to, and as always feel free to edit anything you find here. If you don’t use them maybe they will still give ya’ll some ideas for tags we haven’t thought of if you choose to try this system (or a version of it) yourselves. There are also blank tags to create your own in the FREE download.
I want to first point out that I/we didn’t just make up a bunch of tags and tell dad he had to honor them, nor did my husband and I make tags and tell the children they had to honor them. Dad approved all of the dad tags. The siblings agreed on all of the tags that apply to them. I agreed to honor the couple that apply to me. Deciding what to offer has always been a family event. We all sit down and come up with things, approve or veto them, discuss any conditions, all that. That’s very important in order for this whole system to work. The kids aren’t going to be so motivated to earn money to buy the tags if nobody honors them and they can’t ever be used right?
We have tags to be used alone or to do certain things with a specific person, mostly dad. Dad is the favorite around here lol. Dads the fun parent I’m the disciplinary parent, which I’m 100% okay with. He works a lot to provide for us and the kids miss him so much. They see me all day everyday, so whenever he is home we do everything we can to make that daddy time enjoyable for the kids. He misses them just as much of course. I honestly think dad enjoys these tags more than they do…. Most days anyway. He even requested a few tags himself they could use to “make” him do things with them, and agreed that he won’t/can’t say “no” or “later”. Unless he’s doing something important, he has to honor the tag immediately. His favorites that he asked for are the “do whatever kiddo says all day” tag and the “gaming” tag our middle child can use for some one on one time without the other kids bothering them or joining in without an invite. Like most parents, we love to see our children’s little faces light up with joy and excitement and these tags do that, so we are more than happy to comply with the ones to “make” us do things. Maybe your children would also enjoy some tags to “make” a favorite family member do things? They feel very big getting to say when and what they get to do.
The agreed upon tags we have used….
All of the above tags are enclosed in the downloads below! Continue to read to see how we have used each tag!
Double Dessert Or Dessert Breakfast.
One available per week. Can’t be used on the same day as the fries tag. Not accepted if the kiddo has been having slow eating week, only wanting to eat junk. Medium pricing.
Dessert for breakfast = 1 single approved dessert.
Double dessert =
- Ice-cream + sprinkles & syrup.
- Cookie + 1 scoop of ice-cream.
- 2-4 cookies depending on size.
- Ice-cream sandwich surprise. Which is an ice-cream sandwich rolled in crushed cookies, whatever kind they choose that day.
- Other mom approved choice.
Why? We definitely want to teach good eating habits, but when it comes to the youngest we aren’t to concerned because the kid doesn’t really eat sweets or candy at all. It’s very rare that it’s ever requested, the kid would rather eat tomatoes and such whenever given the option. We also want the all children to understand eating junk is perfectly fine in moderation. For those reasons we are okay having 1 of these tags as an option. This tag is rarely purchased and when it is it’s typically weeks before it’s ever used.
McDonald’s or fries for dinner.
One available only accepted once a month. Can’t be used on the same day as the dessert tag. Medium pricing.
Why? This was one of the few requested tags and I agreed to it because I knew it would rarely get used. I also price this one fairly high, making it less appealing and further ensuing that it’s barley used. It’s there, it’s an option, but the kid has to decided if it’s worth buying and having less money therefore getting less things. Basically how bad do you want the fries kid? lol
1 whole soda.
4 available per week. Only 1 card accepted per day & only after drinking 1 bottle of water. Cheap tag.
Why? The youngest only drinks water or Sprite which is caffeine free. There’s 4 available a week, they are used maybe twice a week and we get the mini bottles so it’s not really as much soda as people think when they hear 1 whole bottle.
1 agreed upon game for the whole family after dinner.
Two available per week not valid for video games. Priced on the low side.
Why? This is a great example of something we would do anyway. We are more than happy to play games with any of the kids when they ask. The appeal of the tag is they get to say what day and no matter what everyone is doing, if they are in the house they gotta play.
30 min of pre approved media on any approved platform.
Two available per week. Fairly cheap.
Why? I’m pretty picky about the approved shows and things but even if I wasn’t almost everything kiddo is interested in is educational.
Good for 1 full pre approved movie or 1 hour of approved WIFI entertainment.
Two available per week. Fairly cheap.
Why? I’m pretty picky about the approved shows and things but even if I wasn’t almost everything kiddo is interested in is educational.
Stop, Drop & Play!
This is a dad tag. Two available per week. Cheap.
Why? Dad will play pretty much anything anytime he’s free but let’s face it we all have those moments as parents when we just don’t feel like playing for a number of reasons. The kiddo wanted a tag that would make dad play on the rare occasion he says no or make him play something he typically wouldn’t want to like cars or dolls. The kid and dad both get enjoyment out of this tag, even if he has to play things he doesn’t like when he doesn’t feel like playing.
Mom said time for bed, but I get stay up instead! 30 more min before bed.
One available per week. Priced high. Can’t be used after 10pm.
Why? 30 min doesn’t make that big of a difference here and it give the illusion that kiddo is getting away with something, over ruling mom this one time. If I know kiddo has this tag I make sure to set it up to be used because of the excitement the kid gets out of it. Worth staying up 30 more min to see the happy little face!
Any pre approved arts/craft activity or 20 min of coloring with 1 or both parents.
Two available per week. Cheap tag.
Why? Aside from coloring, I do this stuff with the kids all the time all they have to do is ask, it’s not really dad’s thing at all. This gives the kiddo the power to make dad do it for a change or make mom coloring, a kiddo favorite currently.
One hour of video game time alone.
One available per week. Fairly cheap.
Why? I don’t see anything wrong with an hour of gaming here and there if it’s earned and even when it’s purchased it’s rarely used. The youngest hasn’t played a video game in almost three months, but when it is used the approved games are mostly educational and all age appropriate.The most used game console by the youngest is the WII, so it’s not like the kid is just sitting around staring at a screen every time. All of the kid WII games involve some physical interaction as well like dancing.
One hour of video game time with dad as long as he’s free.
Two available per week. Fairly cheap.
Why? This is a dad requested tag. Playing video games means he can sit still on the couch. After a long dad at work, he wants to hang out and play with the kids but some days it’s hard due to his injuries. Gaming is easier on him some days, and for as hard as he works for our family he damn well deserves a little video gaming with the kids if that’s what he wants to do. Even when it’s purchased it’s rarely used, when it is dad typically suggests it rather than doing a floor activity or something else painful for him that day. Kiddo tends to prefer the dad tags like battles.
One hour of video game time with a sibling.
One available per week. Fairly cheap.
Why? This is sibling requested tag hoping to avoid playing little kids things but still get to hang out with kiddo and seem like hero for doing so. The youngest always views our middle child as a as a hero regardless though.
1 hour of PC time with mom.
Two available per week. Fairly cheap.
Why? The way it’s used is typically educational and we want the kids to be familiar with computers since, let’s face it, they run the world…. The pc activities we do are paintbrush and researching whatever thing the kid is hung up on that week, typically an animal. The appeal is getting to use moms laptop that otherwise isn’t allowed to be touched.
1 approved movie of your choosing for the whole family to watch with popcorn/snack & soda.
One available per week.
Why? Another thing we have always done anyway, the tag just lets kiddo feel in control by getting to choose the movie, get any snack and drink without having to use a tag, and eat on the couch.
Read an extra chapter/book before bed.
Three available per week. Very cheap.
Why? Because reading is important and currently the kid LOVES it, I want to encourage that as much as I can! I read every night anyway and I’d do more if asked so long as it’s not to late.
Day off school.
One available and can only be used once a month. Very pricey.
Why? We do school 7 days a week, 365 days a year, yes that means holidays and weekends, half days, but we still have school. Since we school year round letting kiddo take a day off occasionally won’t hurt. Besides I’ll still work in some kind of lesson, I always do, so really this just lets the kid get out of paper worksheets for the day, not learning. And lastly the amount of work that’s done to earn enough to buy this tag makes up for the day off and the work planned for the day off still has to be made up by the end of the week or risk not being able to shop.
Skip 1 subject of your choosing for the day.
One available per week. Very pricey.
Why? Again, since we school year round letting kiddo skip something occasionally won’t hurt and the kid is still going to watch videos on the subject so we aren’t skipping it all together, just the worksheet(s) really and depending on what’s chosen to skip it may still have to be made up by Friday in order to shop.
Skip writing practice for the day.
Two available per week. Fairly cheap.
Why? We have been working on writing since day 1. It’s something we do every single day. The ABC’s, numbers and name 5 times. But it’s not the only writing we do all day so skipping it isn’t that big of a deal because kiddo is still going to write something somewhere daily. Writing is also the most boring school thing to the kid so avoiding it for the day is a big deal which makes working hard enough to buy this tag a big deal as well. As I mentioned this is only worth $1 so it’s not as if a lot of money would be lost for skipping it either, also if any other worksheets we do that day has a significant amount of writing to it I’ll give $1 for that as well as whatever the subject is worth. Unlike the day off school or skip a subject tags this doesn’t have to be made up at all.
Nine available per week. The kid is a big snacker. Cheapest tag.
Why? Junk food means a completely different thing in our house compared to the average opinion in others. When I say junk food I mean things like goldfish, graham crackers, cheese it’s, ritz etc. The worst thing in our junk food box is the individual Pringles. I never buy anything to bad so we aren’t tempted to eat it, but my husband and I don’t really eat that stuff regardless and neither does the youngest, so I really don’t mind these tags. The main reason I made them was because kiddo went through a phase where crackers and cheese were the only things consumed. I made the tags so there’s a limit on that stuff and it’s easier to get real food in that tiny belly.
One available per week. Very pricey. This is the tag chosen every month with no dragons.
Why? It gives the kiddo a whole day doing things with dad, (a lot of which things only dad will do) and nobody is allowed to interrupt or join unless asked by the kid, which never happens. 🤣 Recently Sundays have become dad days with or without the tag, but if there’s no tag dad chooses the activities for the day (all stuff kiddo would choose anyway because dads a yes man 😂) if the tag is used the kiddo gets to choose! Dad doesn’t get many days off so on the rare days he does he gets to spend it with his favorite person. They both greatly enjoy this tag!
Lego or agreed upon activity
Two available per week. Very cheap.
Why? This was requested by the middle child it can be used for dad or the middle. Our middle child enjoys seeing the little light up face as much as we do and wanted a tag that could be used to do something to get that reaction as well. Legos is one of the few things they could all agree on.
Initially there was two available per week but over time it’s become less appealing so now there’s only one. Used for silly dancing with dad. Very cheap, one of the cheapest there is.
Why? The kid loves to dance and so does dad. They have no rhythm but they have a ton of fun!
Dress up battle
Initially there was two available per week but over time it’s become less appealing so now there’s only one. Used to battle dad. Very cheap, one of the cheapest there is.
Why? Kiddo loves dressing up and loves it even more when dad wears silly things as well. It’s something they have always done together, this just let’s the kid choose when they do it now.
This tag isn’t a current option due to covid but when it was used there was one available, used only once a month. There is a pet store near up that does puppy parties. You can rent out a small room and play with all of the puppies there, a few at a time and you can switch them out as much as you’d like. Big ticket tag, priced very high.
Why? The kid LOVES animals especially puppies but I am not a pet person so we’ll never own one but I wanted to encourage the love of animals so I’m okay with having a puppy party every so often. Due to the cost of renting the room this is one of the most expensive tags. I wanted to make sure kiddo understood how big this reward was and if it’s going to cost us so much I think it’s fair to make it more pricey so the kid will be paying more for it as well therefore encouraging a lot of extra work!
One available to be used once a month for one fish $10 or less or one tank decor $10 or less.
Why? Kiddo loves fish and has a decent sized tank but not much to go in it. Knowing how much the kid wants to fill the tank with decor, I decided this would be a pretty good motivator.
One available. It can be used only once a month for a trip to a dollar store or Wal-Mart with a $20 limit. Priced fairly high since this one requires us to use real money to honor.
Why? Kiddo loves to shop for toys and random useless junk! What kid doesn’t right? Since the kid is still young enough to enjoy the dollar stores and cheap/clearance things at Wal-Mart we are able/willing to give kiddo a chance to earn a little real money occasionally to blow on small/cheap things we wouldn’t typically buy or view as a waste. It’s only been redeemed twice. We do our best to teach the kids that material things may be nice to have but they are what’s important in life and remind them how lucky they are to have and/or receive most everything they could ever ask for. I think we’re doing pretty well at it because even on weeks a hefty amount is earned, kiddo would much rather get tags that are for family or dad activities than get this one.
This system isn’t really used for the the other children, like I said they have outgrown it, but we do have a reward system for them as well built off of this one. I’ve evolved their systems as they grew and tailored them to each child specifically, considering their personalities and what interest we could use to motivate them. For example the middle child loves big name shoes (I have no idea why) so we use that as a big ticket reward, allowing for 1 pair a month to be earned. Recently the middle child requested to start earning some tags again as well. I’m not sure why or what the appeal is now after not being interested in using this system for so long, but if it works I’m game. The middle child unfortunately goes to public school due to having to split time between two homes in two different states. That was taken into consideration when deciding how the shoes and tags could be earned and redeemed. The tags are earned/redeem by having good behavior in school, (since that’s been a problem area on and off for years) reading chapter books and doing extra work without being assigned to. The shoes reward can be redeemed by earning cash towards them weekly the same way. There’s a choice of getting some tags and a little cash or getting no tags and all cash every week. The cash is then put back until there’s enough to buy the desired shoes that month. It’s a big motivator to behave and buckle down at school, but given how much they cost it can take a while to save enough so there’s also the option of waiting for the progress reports we have set up to receive from teachers more frequently than normal. Getting excellent grades and remarks each month can earn a pair without having to spend any money that may be saved at that time. Due to covid we have had to alter the way tags and shoes can be earned a little seeing as how the schools are closed more than open and the online courses aren’t always set up for their school, but it’s basically the same concept, be good and do extra work at home.
The few tags that were requested by our middle child are….
All of the above tags are enclosed in the downloads below! Continue to read to see how we have used each tag!
Stay up late with mom
One available a week. This is used for some quality time after everyone else goes to bed. We pretty much just sit and talk while playing battleship or something for about an hour or so. Can’t be redeemed on days we are running late for everything and bed times get pushed.
Mom game time
Two available a week. This can be used to “make” mom watch them play video games. I’m not a huge fan and I can’t play the games these kids are into but I can watch them! LOL
Dad game time
Two available a week. This is for some one on one dad game time! One hour, any game, no siblings allowed!
Sibling go away
While it’s true the youngest is the favorite when it comes to both siblings and they love the time they get together, somethings they just want a little alone time! All of the kids can earn this card 3 each, they can use it against any of the siblings and everyone has agreed to honor it. The youngest isn’t a big fan of these tags but the older 2 definitely love them! They have all been really good sports about them like it or not and went away when given the tag with a set timer so they all know when the time is up and they don’t end up having a disagreement over what time it was when the tag was used or how long it’s actually been.
The middle and the youngest also wanted a few tags that the middle child could give the youngest to use if needed. (Pictured above.) Another chance for the middle kiddo to swoop in and be the hero to the youngest. They don’t get to see each other as much as they’d like so I try to make their time together special for them as well, so of course I was happy to agree to this. If kiddo runs out of game tags or stay up late tags the middle child can swoop in and save the day, as long as the youngest isn’t grounded or anything that is. However that does mean the middle has to make the choice to get those tags instead of one for personal use or cash. But kiddo doesn’t even bother buying those tags when the favorite sibling is home because the kid knows it’s not necessary. The choice to get tags for the middles favorite sibling is always a sure thing! 😂 If it was for the oldest it’s be a different story….🤣
How I store and keep track of tags: I used magnet tape on the youngest tags so they could be stored on our fridge. The ones that have been purchased go on the bottom fridge door and the ones that have been redeemed or weren’t bought that week go on the top freezer door. I store the middles tags using velcro. There’s strips of velcro on that backs and a strip on the bedroom wall to hold the purchased tags. When those tags are redeemed I keep them on a velcro strip on my office wall to keep each child’s tags separate. It’s made keeping track of everything very simple. Photos below
Some of the tags are no longer used, I switch them out every so often as I said but I included at least 1 of every tag ever used in the downloads below for anyone that would like to use them. Again these things may not be for you but maybe they will give you some ideas on things you would be okay with and your kids would enjoy. I sincerely hope this is helpful and useful for anyone that decides to try it out. Whether or not you decided to use this system I hope you got something out of all this or at least enjoyed the read!
If you have any questions or would like any help with setting it up or creating tags feel free to contact me, I’m happy to help anyway I can!
Below are two closer photos of the other teaching aids we have on the fridge. The days of the week, emotion and weather magnets I made. The doll was found at Rite Aid for $2. The kiddo puts the correct day above the doll every morning, then we check the weather and put the correct weather magnet under the day and kiddo dresses the doll appropriately for that days weather. We do this to help teach days of the week and how to dress for the day (weather wise and matching) in a more fun way. The emotion magnets we use to talk about emotions of course, but also if the kiddo is having a bad day or moment kiddo moves the correct feeling down so the other family members can see what the kid is feeling and then takes a few moment alone to feel better or think over things. We talk it out whenever the kiddo is ready and comes to us to let us know. I don’t know why this helps with bad days/moments but it really seems to. I did not come up with this it was 100% all kiddo. Not sure where the idea came from but I like. When I made the magnets I just intended to use them to talk about feelings in a fun way, what situations could cause each feeling and how best to handle it. I thought the kiddo’s idea of how to use them was a neat idea to share with ya’ll since it’s been working for us for a while now! I apologize for the less than great photos. My camera is just horrible, one day I’ll break down and by a new one, but until then I think it still gets the point across. 😂
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