Thursday, January 6, 2011

Ticket system

I have over the years tried a variety of ticket reward systems for my kids and have finally worked out a system that works great for us.  Several people have asked me about it so I figured I would do a post about it. 
First, we have pink tickets and yellow tickets (which we call "golden" tickets)
It takes 10 pink tickets to earn a golden ticket. 
Everything fun (literally everything) costs a golden ticket.  For example having a friend over, going to a friends house, a half hour of TV, or a half hour of computer time.  Golden tickets can also be redeemed for money 1 golden ticket is $1. 
I wanted the kids to understand that even their playdates require work from Mommy (driving them or picking them up).
Now pink tickets are easy to earn.  Any chore will do it. 
these are all worth 1 ticket
putting a pile of laundry away (somedays an ambitious child will see that I am folding laundry and wanting a lot of tickets will put away everyone's laundry and can quickly get 7 tickets)
emptying a section of the dishwasher
doing any chore that mom gives you
making your bed
Some tickets are time sensitive -- for example I don't give tickets to the kids for eating breakfast (since they genuinely want to do that), but they do get a ticket if they are finished with breakfast 25 minutes before they have to leave.  Same goes for getting dressed (they each have a time by which if they are fully dressed and ready for the day they get a ticket). 
20 minutes of instrument practice (flute and violin at our house) is worth 5 tickets.  (as I mentioned yesterday, piano does not earn tickets -- that is on a separate money based system (reflecting how important them doing piano is to me)).
Why has this worked so well?  First, there is not a lot of tickets to keep track of -- in previous efforts at tickets the kids would accumulate 60 or 70 tickets and it seemed like tickets were coming out of my ears.  Plus with that many tickets it was easy for the kids to "steal" from eachother and from the ticket stash.  Now the most they ever have is 9 pink tickets and a handful of golden tickets.  Second, the rewards are easy to offer.  When all 4 kids watch a TV show, I get 4 golden tickets turned in.  I watch their golden ticket levels and try to offer new fun surprises to keep their levels down -- For example I sometimes have a fun craft to do with mom and it costs 2 golden tickets.  There has been no stealing of tickets because each child is acutely aware of how many golden tickets they have at any given time.  In the past, a lot of my rewards were toy or treat based and I felt like I was constantly buying junk or junk food.  This way has worked out great.
What do I do if they really want to . . . have a playdate but don't have a golden ticket.  I quickly give them 10 fast assignments.  This is often how I get those last few pesky things put away. 
So far not a single golden ticket has been redeemed for money.  They all get regularly used each week by tying a lot of the normal things to the rewards.  I love it when all the kids want to watch TV but none of them have a golden ticket.  My kids suddenly turn into fantastic helpers.  I get 40 jobs done in a matter of 5 minutes (all with no complaining) and then they sit and watch TV (quietly usually) and I get something done.  It is seriously a win-win situation!!!!!
Maybe this system will work for you too. 


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Andrea said...

What a great idea! I am always trying new reward systems and have yet to find one that has stood the test of time. This sounds like it could work. I like that it is straight forward and that it focuses on the positive. Where do you get the rolls of tickets? Thanks!
(ps. Keep posting these great parenting and "how I run my household" ideas. I know you are full of them!)

Twins Squared said...

I think I might try this. Right now we have the big girls earning checks that they get a weekly allowance for so many checks. But a few things about it can be confusing, especially because some nights I don't tally it up for one reason or another. Mike had mentioned a ticket system (odd that he actually was interested in a parenting idea!). Maybe I will start this in the next few weeks. I added you to my blog roll if that's okay! I meant to do it sooner but never did. Take care!