The Ticket Reward System Explained

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Parenting tip: Use the Ticket Reward System to help your kids do the things they are suppose to (and pay for the things they aren't)!

As a parent, we are constantly trying to come up ideas on how to solve some of our parenting problems. Once in a while we are lucky and we find the right fit the first time we try it.  However, more often than not, it doesn’t work that way.  We have to sometimes set aside one idea and be open to trying something new. That was the case with us.

We had been using the Responsibility Chart.  We tried that method for around 18 months, but honestly, it just didn’t work as well as we wanted it to.  Yes, our kids were doing things, but it just did not seem to work as well as we had hoped.   We knew there had to be something better out there — something which would make them appreciate the time they have on the iPad or computer and also make them recognize that things needed to be done around our house – without me having to prod and ask them.

I then recalled reading a friend’s Facebook status.  She mentioned that she had bought tickets for rewards. I thought that sounded like a really awesome idea.  She mentioned that her son would earn them for doing the things she and her husband agreed upon and he would be able to redeem them for time spent playing video games.  That got me thinking (which can often be a very scary thought).  What if we tried that?

The more I thought about this idea, the more I liked it!   I started thinking of the book fairs and school events which cost money.  I thought about the snacks and other things they wanted when we went to movie night at our school or the theater.  I thought of the presents they needed to buy for friends’ birthday parties.

I then took my thought process another direction — earning rewards. This system could be used to help with screen time, staying up late….and so much more!    Like I said, it can be scary when the thinking gets started.  What if we could offer a system where they earned money to get all of the other things they needed?  After all, we were going to pay for them anyhow, so why not make the kids earn the right to get those perks?  Again….tickets seemed to fit the bill!

And  – what about fines!?  What if they had to pay me tickets when they did not do the right thing.  Maybe if they did not do a chore or they were fighting??

The ideas were endless…..and that resulted in our starting our Ticket Rewards System.



First off, we needed tickets.  I found some fun tickets with a smiley face on them.  That seemed to be the type of ticket that would work best for our system.  Best of all – they were affordable!  If you want to check them out, they are here on Amazon (and come in all sorts of fun colors).

Next, I found some jars and removed the lids. I allowed the kids to use markers and personalize their own ticket jar.  That way, they’d all know which one was theirs!

 Parenting tip: Use the Ticket Reward System to help your kids do the things they are suppose to (and pay for the things they aren't)!

Now, when the kids earn tickets, they have a place to keep them (and they are also right where we need them, should they lose a ticket)!



We sat down as a family and determined HOW the kids would earn tickets.  The first thing they learned was that they would not earn tickets for doing the things that were expected of them.  Things such as make their bed, getting dressed for school, picking up their rooms, etc.  We told them that those are things that they have to do as a member of our family.  However, we told them that if they do not do the things they need to for living in our house, they could actually lose a ticket!  (You should have seen the looks that we got when we told them that)!

Parenting tip: Use the Ticket Reward System to help your kids do the things they are suppose to (and pay for the things they aren't)!

They now each have their regular chores to do, but we also added on weekly chore they had to do…..things my husband I normally did.   We told them that they would be responsible for that task and that when they saw it needed to be done, it would be their responsibility to do it.  We told them that we also did not expect them to always remember, so we would remind them and they would have to take care of the chore when we mentioned it.  However, if they did this without complaint, they could each earn as many as 4 tickets a week.

They asked us how they could earn more tickets and we told them that if they just jump in and do things without being asked, such as homework or picking up the family room, they could earn a ticket.  They even learned that if they were helpful to one another and treated one another with respect they they might earn one.  We told them they MAY earn tickets for these things as we did not want them doing them solely for the purpose of getting tickets.



Not only did our kids find out how they could earn tickets, but they also were told how they would lose them.   If they fought or sassed, they’d lose a ticket.  If they did not do what we asked them to do, they would lose a ticket.  If they whined when it was time to take a bath or go to bed — you got it — lose a ticket!

Parenting tip: Use the Ticket Reward System to help your kids do the things they are suppose to (and pay for the things they aren't)!

We also told our kids that there were offenses which would cost more than one ticket – such as yelling, disrespecting us, temper tantrums and the like.  These offenses will start at cost of 2 tickets — and could go up from there!



Since we were not handing them money, we had to assign a value to the tickets.  The tickets are now being used for things we normally buy for them like book fair items or presents for birthday parties.   My husband and I decided that we would provide clothes and shoes for them and the food on the table, but that was it.

As far as the ticket value, my husband and I looked at our monthly spending and did an estimate and determined how many tickets we thought they’d earn on average in a given month.  We decided to start the value out at $1/ticket, full well knowing that if they turn into the perfect children we know they can be, there may be a downturn in the market and the tickets may lose half of their value.

We did not want our kids to just think that tickets were a way to spend only on themselves.  We wanted to make sure that they used them to help others.  They learned that each week they would cash in 1 ticket and would receive $1 which they could place into the donation plate at church.

We even set up a savings schedule.  At the end of each month, they have to look at the tickets they have available.  Each of them will have to cash in 10% of the tickets, which will convert to cash.  They will have to put that into their savings account.  You might think that kids may try to spend all of their tickets, but we don’t allow them to drop below 15 tickets in their jar at any time.  This helps them learn budgeting and to make sure that they don’t always spend everything they receive.



Now that our kids knew how to cash in tickets for goods and money, we decided to entice them even more.  We added in a way for them to cash in tickets for rewards!

Parenting tip: Use the Ticket Reward System to help your kids do the things they are suppose to (and pay for the things they aren't)!

They currently are allowed a certain number of electronics time every day (outside of what is needed for school).  If they want more time than allowed, they can get that – but they have to use tickets!  If they cash in 1 ticket, they can get another 30 minutes of screen time (but are limited to no more than 1 hour of bonus screen time a day).

Another fun reward we added was staying up late!  They all have bedtimes – even on the weekends (although, the weekend time is a bit later).  We decided that if they wanted to stay up later, they could do so – but they would have to pay with a ticket!



So, why did we change what we were doing to help our kids learn responsibility?  We know our kids and when they have something tangible, in the moment, they can relate much better.  They feel the ticket in their hand when they do what they are suppose to do but they know I can take one out of their buckets if I need to as well.  Seeing that exchange hits home much more than a check mark on a chart.  They can’t hold a check mark.  They can’t see it taking away from what they have.

Will they earn a ticket for every little thing they do?  No.  There are things that they need to do just for living here which do not warrant tickets.  That being said, we are starting out by rewarding them for more — to get them to understand how the process works.  As time goes on, the reasons for earning tickets will change.  The way you handle chores with a 4 year old is much different than a 10 year old.  The system will grow with them.

We’ve used this system for a while and it amazes me at how effective it is.  I just have to say TICKETS and my kids know that they better listen up!!

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  1. Julie M says

    I am very anxious to hear how the ticket system works for you! My husband and I are thinking through a similiar system to use on our family vacation in May. We are thinking of actually starting them off each day with 10 coins (bingo tokens) and then they lose coins for bad behavior. At the end of they day the tokens will be converted to cash and they can spend the money they have left on whatever they want. Or they can bank them to have more for something big (given they are 5 years old, I don’t see this happening!) We are also trying to come up with ways to earn coins and I like your idea of trying new foods. This is a big deal at our house and since we will be travelling in Europe there will be plenty of new things to try!
    I look forward to reading your updates on the success of this program 🙂

    • Tracie says

      I will do an update in a couple of weeks to let everyone know how it is working for us.

  2. says

    I so commend you for taking upon a new system. It really sounds like it could have promise! However, it also sounds quite confusing! Have fun explaining it to your little ones. *hee* I can already visualize a poster board chart being made to help remember all the rules.

    • Tracie says

      They actually just know they get tickets for doing good things and we will give them as we see fit — so they don’t know when they will get the ticket reward. It is like a game — sometimes they get one and sometimes they don’t.

      They were also told we’ll take tickets away for doing things that they shouldn’t — they know what that means.

      We simplified how we explained it to them, and kept more of the details for us.

      • says

        PHEW! For a moment I thought it was going to be way more on the “work” side!! I think it’s great that they don’t know when they’ll receive but, they’ll know when they’ll lose. *hee* And, the versatility is wonderful as they get older. The possibilities are endless!!

        I look forward to encouraging updates.

  3. Dona Collins says

    This system sounds awesome. They can only cash out 20 tickets at a time; but how many times per week? Once? That would lead me to wonder if your older children will ultimately figure out how to do the minimum to get their maximum cash-out. Will you allow for extra cash-out for vacations to encourage savings?

    • Tracie says

      They can cash out once per week and that is it. So they can accumulate what they want and receive a maximum of $20/week. The thing is that when they cash out, they will still save 10%, donate 10% and keep 80% for themselves. So they get $16 and $4 goes into other buckets.

      As they get older the system can be adapted as needed, but for now it works since they are still younger.

  4. says

    We have been using a ticket system for a couple of weeks with our 4 year old. He has trouble staying in his bed all night and drags out going to sleep as long as possible. He gets one ticket if he goes to bed without issue and another one if he does not come to our bed in the middle of the night. We worked out a reward scale so that he stays motivated to continue and started small. 5 tickets got him new stickers, 10-treat at the grocery store, 20-new book, 50-trip to the movie theater, 100-new toy. So far we are up to getting a new book and he is very excited to collect his tickets in the morning. He understands why he is getting or not getting 1 or 2 tickets which is the important part of the learning process.

  5. Heather C. says

    Thank you for writing this, Tracie! I am a mother of 5. This won’t work for my 16 y/o, but I also have a 12, 11, 10.75 (LOL) and 9 year olds. Half of them are foster children. We were using “good job stones” but found that our 11 y/o foster daughter was stealing others’ and there was no way to track this. Each “ticket” has a specific number, and they’re “two sided tickets” so if we label the other half with an initial of who we gave it to on the back this will elminate a nasty behavior that we’ve been trying to work on. Much appreciated ;o)

    • Heather C. says

      I crack myself up…..I’m now going to refer to you as “Ticket Tracie!” ROFL….

      • Tracie says

        What a great way to really make it easy to track!! You can’t deny your tickets because of those numbers!!!

        And feel free to call me Ticket Tracie! LOL!!! Have a great day Heather!

  6. says

    Sounds like a great system since you know what your children respond to. I just started a commissions chart for my son to help him understand money. So far it works well. Can’t wait to hear how it goes.