My Summer Incentive System

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My Summer Incentive System for Kids

I just finished the first full week of summer with both girls home and out of school, and we had a really pleasant week. In summer’s past, this has not always been the case, which is why I am thrilled to pieces at the splendor of what some rainbow popsicle sticks can do.

I attribute the first week success to my new summer incentive system to inspire behaviors that make them nice humans to be around.

And it worked! Well. Which is why I am sharing with you today.

Over the years I have done a variety of things to try to achieve the same result, but nothing has ever worked quite as well as this system. Here’s how it goes…

Supplies needed: 

~ Two vases or clear bowls or really anything that kids can put stuff in.

~ Something to put in them as a token of a good behavior : in my case, rainbow popsicle sticks. You can also use coins, marbles, beads, anything.  But they really like the popsicle sticks.

~ Display in an area of the house where they spend the most time.

Our Summer Incentive System:

1. Each child starts with the same number of sticks.

I started with 20, which I placed in a pile in front of the vases. To keep them separate, I put an orange or white rubber band around them, one color for each girl.

2. A child earns a stick when they exhibit positive behaviors.

Things like playing nicely together, sharing, cleaning up without complaining, helping, generally those sweet behaviors I want to reward.

3. Popsicle sticks can also be lost (or taken out).

If it is an egregious behavior, they will lose a stick immediately. Like my oldest talked to me in a sassy, disrespectful voice and lost a stick immediately. No warning. NOT okay.

But for most everything else, they will be given a warning before losing it. For example, say a bickering episode starts within a game of Barbies, they both want the same Barbie and keep on whining and fighting over it. I could say, “You both have a warning. There are two choices. You can chose to work it out or separate and play something on your own.” Hopefully they work it out, but if they fighting continues, they both lose a stick.

4. When they earn all 20 of their sticks in the vase, they are given a small reward.  I am going to increase the number of sticks each time we start over because it only took 5 days to earn the reward. That’s a lot of rewards.

For the reward, we are talking small things they helped me come up with. My little one wants a frozen yogurt trip (don’t tell her we would have gone anyway), and my oldest wants an hour with me playing Barbies with them (sad!! Note to self…)

I think I will come up with a bigger reward for the last week of summer to celebrate all the sticks they earned over the past couple months.

Random Rules:

1. They may not take a stick without a parent telling them to do so.

2. There is one way to earn an automatic stick: making their beds when they get up. So they can get up, make their bed, and come out and get the stick on their own.

3. If you ask for a stick, you automatically don’t get it. “Mom! I cleaned up my clothes on the floor! Can I get a stick?” NO! I don’t want them to get used to just doing things they normally should just to earn a stick.

4. I told them I am keeping track, and counting them (I’m not), and if I notice there are extra sticks that they did not earn in there, they will lose all the sticks and start over (serious!!)


The Beauty of It All

They are competitive with each other, so if one makes their bed, you better bet the other one will too, lest they have one less stick. They have been tied neck in neck the entire week. Or, for one to lose a stick is a big deal because again, that means the other one will be ahead.

Love This 

Emma said, “Morgan you can play Barbies with us when I win my reward.” And then Morgan said, “Emma you can go to frozen yogurt with us when I win.”

I gave them both a stick.

Do you have a system that works for you? Please share!


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