Reward Jar

What You Need:

  • Big jar
  • Ping pong balls
  • Permanent markers
  • Paper
  • Pen

What You Do:

  1. Start by explaining what the jar will be used for. Make it special and exciting, emphasizing how experiences are so much more important than “things.” Instead of money or toys, she'll get to have extra time to hang out with her friends, an extended bedtime, final pick on tonight's dinner, control of the TV remote, choice of the game played on family game night, etc.
  2. Use a paper and pen to help your child brainstorm the type of rewards she would value and appreciate most. Of course, if she wants something like "permission to watch an R-rated movie," you have the power of veto. Work with her to create a list of experience-based rewards that both of you are excited about.
  3. Help her use a permanent marker to write one reward on each ping pong ball.
  4. Let her put all the ping pong balls in the jar.
  5. Have her use stickers or ribbons to personalize the container.
  6. Now how will your child earn any of these ping pong rewards? Again, make her an equal member of the decision-making process as you brainstorm a list of actions your child can do to gain a reward. The list can include things like finishing all homework without being asked, completing chores with a good attitude, and cleaning your room. Make sure the list is tailored to things your child may need an extra boost in doing.

If the reward jar is a hit, consider trying out different types of jars as well. One fun twist is the boredom buster jar. Brainstorm a list of fun activities with your child and write them on the ping pong balls. Here are some examples: play charades, draw a picture of a place you’d like to visit, write a letter to a relative who lives out of state,  do a puppet show, build a fort, take the dog for a walk, make a special placemat for each family member for dinner that evening, and draw the clouds in the sky. Next time your child is bored, have her randomly select a ping pong ball from the jar!

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