Magic Motivators: Sticks

Rewards for Children

rewards for children

I swear by this “magic motivator!”  I took some jars and wrote my children’s names on them.  Every time my children are good mannered, respectful, or obedient, I reward them with a Popsicle stick in their jar.  Whenever they are rude, defiant, or disobedient, I remove a stick from their jars.  Once my children have earned a certain number of Popsicle sticks they get a small reward.  We have a “treasure chest” loaded with small inexpensive toys and prizes.  Our children are allowed to look inside the chest anytime they want.  This keeps their eyes on the prize – focused and motivated.

I believe that there are two reasons that this method is so effective with my kids.  The first reason is obvious – my kids are excited and motivated to win the prizes.  However, the second reason is slightly less obvious.  I think that the Popsicle sticks help my children visualize their behavior.  A full jar is a pretty good indicator that their behavior is great and an empty jar shows them that they are missing the mark.  This helps my children self-correct.

Now, I will offer this one word of warning:  Do not use the Popsicle stick reward system as a replacement to more traditional methods of discipline.  I use them as a positive supplement. While I still spank my children or put them in time-out from time to time, I have noticed a drastic decrease in bad behavior since I started implementing my Popsicle stick jars.

I hope this tip helps.  There are hundreds of variations to this system.  If you use a different “magic motivator,” please leave a comment sharing your technique.  I am always looking for new “effective” ideas.

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  1. says

    Funny story, you just commented on my site and I visited your page. Then, I found this awesome idea on another site and found you again. Ok, we were meant to be blog friends! :) haha!
    I’d love for you to join my Saturday Show & Tell; I know my readers will love your ideas too! Have a great weekend! :)

    • says

      Hi Mackenzie, It was meant to be! I loved your site and was stuck on it for longer than I like to mention! I would love to come and share on Saturday, thanks so much for letting me know!

  2. says

    That is definitely a great motivator…and a visible on too! I am always amazed how silly sticker or meaningless plastic trinkets could be so motivational…but I have seen it over and over happen in my house…so i know they are!

  3. says

    Hello Janine, this really is a great blog. Education is very important to us in this house, my husband is a teacher. I am now following and can’t wait to ready more. Thanks for stopping by The Bargain Game.

  4. says

    I was just reading about this idea for older kids, but using money. (I’m not sure how I feel about using actual money unless it was tied to ‘above and beyond’ type chores…but that is irrelevant =) This is a neat idea for younger kids! Thanks for sharing at Trivium Tuesdays!

    • says

      Hi Amy, You could use pennies instead of sticks for younger children, you could even use the sticks for older children to see how much allowance they get. It is really a versatile method to help them visualize their behavior. You could use anything. Thanks for stopping by.

    • says

      I would fall into the same trap, but it is hard not to ignore the colorful jar if you display it in a prominent place. I also like to put some sticks in my pocket in the morning. Who wants to carry sticks in their pocket all day? I Have to think of good things my children do so I can get rid of them. I will also reward for different tasks and helping me around the house. If you tell your child that they will get a stick for helping you out before the task, they will usually hold you to your word. I even incorporate sticks into learning games. I do have some trouble remembering to make them take one away for bad behavior, but I try to be consistent as possible. It really works well in our home. I hope that helps. Thanks for asking!

  5. says

    Visual motivators whether pop sticks or stickers have always been a great way for children to see and track their own behavior! We used to have a small treat box when they were little as well… harder now that they are bigger but I still love the idea! Thanks for sharing at tip toe thru tuesday!

  6. says

    Very interesting! I don’t children anymore that are little, but if they were, I might be interested in trying this! I appreciated the fact that you emphasized the fact that this is a supplement rather than a substitution for other discipline methods!

  7. says

    WOW! This looks like a great system! We’re going to have to try it out!!! Thanks for linking up to “Strut Your Stuff Saturday!” We hope to see you again! -The Sisters

  8. says

    I love this idea! Wish I had known it when mine were little, don’t think it will work so well with my adult children, but will use it with my granddaughter. Thank you for sharing.

    • says

      Your granddaughter will love Popsicle sticks. My youngest calls them pop sticks. It is so funny when we have guests because my children will ask to count their Popsicle sticks and our guests give them funniest looks. Thanks for stopping by!

  9. says

    Rather than removing a stick that they earned (it’s discouraging to lose something you earned!), you might try having a consequence jar that, when enough sticks are in THAT jar, a consequence is earned–cleaning grout, picking up dog poop, washing windows–anything unpleasant that mom doesn’t like to do that will be equally unpleasant for the young ‘ens. I used a variation of this in my classroom and the visual was strong, but I had a rule that they could not lose their earned “stars” (rather than sticks) and if they had a consequence (3 “x’s”) they knew very well they had earned that too–I had a list of consequences they could choose from. We wiped the slate clean every Monday–fresh start, but no loss of “stars”. This was an amazingly powerful classroom management tool!

    • says

      Hi Liesl! That is a great question. We do 40 so that it takes all week to get a prize. We also do bigger wooden shapes for extra special behavior and 5 of those can be turned in for a treat. You can also do less if they are young and you want to show them how it works.


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