All Buttoned Up: A Family Good Works Incentive System

This year, our elementary school rolled out a new "incentive" program, called Brag Bands. Basically, if the kids get caught doing something good, then a teacher or other school worker can reward them with a Brag Band. At the end of each week, students tally up their bands then consult a classroom reward card. Each student gets to choose a reward within the amount of bands he has collected. Each class also had "big prizes" which a student can save their bands up to redeem.

My kids liked this system so much that in February, they devised their own "Brag Band" system for here at home. And let me just say, the work was much harder to earn rewards than my hubby or I would have put together. We told the kids we'd think about it and come up with something that would work better for our family. At the beginning of Spring Break, we unveiled our new plan:

Button Rewards

Yep, buttons. All sorts of pretty buttons.

My hubby and I put together a list of things the kids could do to help out at home. Each item has an assigned number of buttons to go with it. For example:

1    Homework Done without Complaining
1    Clean Room (not on Saturday because that's our family cleaning day)
1    Set the Table
1    Clear the Table
1    Put Dishes Away
1    Load Dishwasher
1    Recycling Out
2    Trash Out
2    Gather Laundry

We've even added a few things that are for a specific child. Our three-year-old is still working on potty training. We decided to add a reward just for her. If she stays dry until lunch time, she earns one button reward. Then if she stays dry until bed time, she can earn another button reward.

My hubby & I also decided that if we found the kids doing something extra nice for one of their siblings, we could reward them with buttons. And the items on the list above are not the only things they can do. Our three-year-old helped me sweep the kitchen one day, so she earned a set of buttons. The list we came up with has items my hubby and I wanted the most help with.

Many of the items listed above can be done by more than one child. Team work is definitely encouraged at our house. If two of our kids work together to set the table, they each earn button rewards.

Handing Out Buttons

There are two different types of buttons in our system - white buttons and colored buttons. When a reward is earned - let's say for putting the dishes away - the child earns 1 white button and 1 colored button.  If the reward is for taking the trash out, then the child would get 2 white buttons and 2 colored buttons. Earned buttons are then put in the child's jar (which are baby food jars we cleaned out & labeled with each child's name).

We started with 100 white buttons and 300 colored buttons. So far, that amount has worked for our four kids. My kids have had fun digging through the button container (which is an easy to open Rubbermaid container), searching for their favorite colors, small buttons, or big buttons. Some colors have gone really fast. The most popular colors have definitely been pink and purple.

Redeeming Awards

You've probably been wondering what's up with the two different types of buttons. My hubby and I decided that we wanted to reward the kids often, but also wanted them to learn how to work for a longer term goal.

So, the white buttons are used for rewards that require fewer buttons. This way, each child should earn at least a weekly reward, but hopefully two or three per week. When someone wants to choose a reward, they count out his buttons with Mom or Dad. Those buttons go back into Mom & Dad's button container. The "Short Term" rewards we came up with are:

Rewards - White Buttons 
5    Wii (30 extra minutes)
5    Computer (30 extra minutes)
5    DS (30 extra minutes)
5    Book Time
10    Call Grandma or Aunt Cheryl
10    Help Make Dinner
10    Dance in the Kitchen
15    Take a Bubble Bath
15    Have a Bowl of Ice Cream
20    Get a Sonic Slush
20    Get a Sundae
20    Rent a Movie
25    Go for a Bike Ride

If the white buttons are for "short term" rewards, then the colored buttons obviously get saved up for the "long term" rewards. We figured these would be redeemed once a month. The "long term" rewards we came up with are:

Big Rewards - Colored Buttons   
60    Visit Julie's House & Jump on her Trampoline
75    Invite a Friend for a Playdate
75    Buy a  Book
100   Invite a Friend for a Sleep-over
125    Go to the Pool
125    Go Roller Skating
125    Go to Monkey Bizness

So far, the button rewards have been working really well. It's been fascinating to see which chores the kids prefer to do. Our five-year-old has cleaned his room every morning before breakfast. Our ten-year-old loves to load & unload the dishwasher. The sink has been dish-free for a longer period of time than I've ever managed! Our eight-year-old has been clearing the table & our three-year-old loves to wipe off the table with a wash cloth after breakfast lunch, and dinner.

It's also been interesting to see who works well together and who doesn't. It's all about personality - who meshes well with each other, or clashes against each other. Kink of like in college when you have roomies. I'm hoping this system may even help the kids prepare for that future part of their lives.

So there you have it. The Ferguson Clan is all buttoned up - and loving it!

Would you like to comment?

Christine said...

What a great idea. I love that the kids were part of thinking it up. It helps them be more excited about it. You guys are such good parents.

Kellie said...

Very awesome idea! Thanks for sharing. I needed to read this post today. I've been so stressed out lately with not being able to keep up with the house work and the kids and I've picked up a lot more babysitting, which means a lot more mess and stress. . . . It just goes on and on (and I'm pregnant again--no I don't think I'll ever attend a conference NOT pregnant). My kids love to "help" but not really Help where I feel like there was something less for me to do.

This idea is going to be put into action. Do you mind if I link your post on my blog?

Taffy said...

Great idea!
I'll have to think of a way to fit it in with my family.

Sheila Bennett said...

Looks like you have a really good system worked out.

Anonymous said...

What a great idea! We do that but with warm fuzzies. =]

Kimber said...

This is such a great idea! I'll have to think about how I can make this work for Melissa. What I want to know is, where is Mommy's button jar? :o) I think you deserve to buy a new book and get ice cream, too!!

Cathy said...

Great idea, Danyelle. Sounds like it's working too.

Mary said...

I like this idea better than paying the kids for extra jobs like we used to do. Of course, that was how they earned clothing money for school. I'm sending this on to my daughter-in-law. Thanks. Look forward to seeing you in a few weeks.

prashant said...

I love that the kids were part of thinking it up
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