Thursday 27 February 2014


Our Preschooler Reward System

Daddy has bought the board, and I have been wanting to implement this with J, but I have been very busy. Yesterday, we went to an open house of one of the top Christian primary schools in Denmark (in terms of grades), and the principal explained the bonus system that they use in their school. That got me very inspired, and I am now starting a simple system with J.


1. 1 Magnetic board or chalk board or paper board shown above
2. 90 Smiley magnets or stickers
3. 1 white board marker


A: 5 Steps:

1. Identify Age Appropriate Chores

Identify age appropriate tasks you want your child to work on. Here is a good website I have found showing the different appropriate tasks for different age:

2. Start Slow and Keep It Simple

I am starting with 1-2 tasks that I pick myself. I am starting with two, but may go down to one after discussing with J.

The tasks I have chosen for J are:
- Setting the table
- Getting dressed in the morning

3. Encourage Buy-in from Your Child

I involve J by allowing him to choose the 2nd or 3rd task that he would like to include, e.g. brushing his teeth himself, folding the clothes, etc.

Ask him what a reward is to him. For example, going swimming with Mommy and Daddy may not be a reward to a child who doesn't like to swim. Let him choose a list of 3-5 rewards.

4. Include Both Chores and Qualities

Besides tasks, there are a few character qualities that I would like to see him develop. I am starting with 1-3 qualities.

For example, J is a little challenged when it comes to greeting people, saying thank you, good morning or goodbye, no matter how much I remind him. If I bring him to my office, he would ignore everyone, to my embarrassment. Of course, shyness does not give us the license not to be courteous. I am thus including courtesy as a character quality that he should work on.

5. Define Completion of Chores

Think through on your own what a completed task looks like. Then sit down with your child and explain to him clearly what a completed task is, which forms part of the rule of the game.

For example, setting the table means all items - placemat, plate, knife, fork and glass correctly and neatly placed. Demonstrate for your child your standard.

For example, getting dressed means putting on shirt, undies, socks or stockings and pants before getting down for breakfast.

For example, exhibiting courtesy means looking into the person's eyes, greeting him with a smile and addressing the person's name (in Denmark) or addressing the person as auntie/uncle (in Singapore).

For example, exhibiting patience means waiting for mommy/daddy to finish conversation with others, and not pulling at mommy/daddy's sleeves to get going. Patience means waiting until everyone finishes main course before eating dessert.

B: How Does It Work? 

Each week...

1. For every task he does or quality he exhibits, he gets 1 smiley.

2. For every task or quality he does without Mommy's prompting, he gets 2 smileys.

3. For every task he does within time allocation, he gets 2 smileys.

4. At the end of the week, tally up the smileys (an opportunity to teach or practice addition) and give the rewards.

5. Re-set the board again at the beginning of the following week and evaluate over the tasks to include - whether you should focus on the same tasks or different tasks.

C: The Rewards:

Here is how we have designed the rewards. We will fine-tune along the way:

1. Every 1 smiley = 5 minutes on the iPad (capped at 1 hour each per week)

2. Every 10 smileys = 1 bowl of yogurt

3. Every 20 smileys = 1 ice-cream (capped at 1 per week)

4. Every 30 smileys = 1 coin ride (the kind at shopping centre where you drop a coin and the car moves)

5. Every 40 smileys = Choose something costing 10 DKK at Tiger

6. Every 50 smileys = Disney Show

On Becoming Childwise by Gary Ezzo and Robert Bucknam

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