Everyone appreciates visual examples. Children thrive on them. We’ve always used a simple visual reward system to encourage good behavior and discourage bad behavior, but sometimes a fresh new approach is needed to keep everyone motivated and consistent. That’s why I’ve introduced a new way to motivate my children and encourage them to make good decisions.
This idea first came to me when I was helping with the 2 and 3-year-olds in Sunday School. There wasn’t an established discipline system. Most of the children were very well behaved, but there were times when they needed a little more than verbal praise as motivation to listen.
I wanted to make it easy for very young children to understand, while really fun and visually appealing at the same time. So, we used magnets to help them manage their behavior. They get 3 magnets that represent how many chances they get before a consequence is enforced. Instead of just warning a child verbally, they get a verbal warning AND a visual warning by removing one of their “jewels”, as we call them. This helps them remember the rules and stay focused.
If they lose all three of their jewels, they get a time out. This system also rewards good behavior at the same time. They can earn their jewels back by being good listeners and following directions. If the children keep just one magnet, they get a special treat at the very end of class. Usually it’s just a small piece of candy or fruit snacks.
This has been a huge help to our preschool class. After the children who come regularly learned the system and understood the consequences, we’ve rarely had to take jewels away. After seeing how well it worked in the preschool class, I took it home and use it for all my children.
How to Make a Simple Reward System
For our reward system, we used recycled can lids that were removed with a can opener that cuts a dull edge. We had the children help us paint the lids as a special activity in class. So, I had my children do the same thing at home.
Then I wrote their names on them and simply glued magnets on the back with rubber cement. You could also use stronger, thicker magnets and the lids just stick right to them without glue. If you are making this for your preschool or Sunday school class, you could also use simple name tags for the children too.
I bought the “jewels” at the store and attached magnets to the backs, but you could use any magnets you already have.
To hold all the magnets at church I just glued wrapping paper to a cookie sheet. When the children come to church, the first thing they do is get their names and pick “jewels”. This gives us the opportunity to remind them of the rules and the reward. It also helps calm and distract new children if they are uneasy about being away from their parents. At home, I keep them low on the refrigerator.
We still use our Popsicle Stick system for homeschooling and completing special tasks, but needed something specifically for behavior. I geared this new reward system for privileges. If my kids loose all their jewels, they don’t get to have a snack. If they have already had a snack, they don’t get any TV time the next day. Keeping all their jewels gives them a Big Popsicle Stick reward at the end of the day.
Having two reward systems might seem confusing, but it has really motivated my children. This simple 3 chance system helps me be more consistent about consequences and helps my children respond quickly to correction because they can see if they are getting close to loosing a privilege.
What kind of reward system do you use?
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