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.
CREATING THE TICKET 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!
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)!
HOW TO EARN TICKETS
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)!
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.
HOW TO LOSE 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!
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!
CASHING IN TICKETS
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.
TICKETS FOR REWARDS
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!
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!!