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Looking for Ideas/suggestions for "Reward" Chart or Allowance for 3 Year Old

I would like to start implementing some kind of system for my 3 year old where he can earn rewards (if that's the right word) for positive behaviors. I never really got an allowance as a kid and I'm not sure that would be appropriate for Cal at this point anyway. I was thinking more along the lines of a chart with stars or stickers and after so many stars he would get a treat of some kind (time alone with mom or dad without little sis, an extra book at bedtime, etc). Has anyone done something like this? Any ideas would be appreciated!

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Thanks for all the great ideas! We made up a chart with tic-tac-toe grids and for every "good job" thing he does he gets to put a star sticker in one of the squares. When he fills all 9 squares on the grid he gets a special treat. Today he wanted one Girl Scout Thin Mint cookie (from my hidden stash!). Anyway, it seems to be going well after only two days. He's well on his way to "prize" number 2. He kind of likes the idea of getting to pick what we have for dinner. After he fills all of the grids on the poster (there are 16 grids), then he will get to pick out a new Thomas Train. I hope he stays excited about the chart - I think being able to see it fill up with stars is a good incentive for him. Along with the bigt "Whoo-hoo!!! Good Job!!!" he gets from Mom and Dad.

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My 3 year old has a reward jar. We bought a pack of poker chips and she gets a certain number to put in a jar when she does something good, and we can easily take them away if she breaks a rule. Then when she fills the jar up, she gets a reward.

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We use a sticker chart. I let my son put the stickers on himself, with help when he needs it. At 3 years old I would only be choosing a few behaviors. Also at age 3 I wouldn't be taking away anything once it's been given. You are rewarding the good behavior not taking away the good behavior when your son displays a behavior you do not like. I cannot stress how important it is NOT to take away for the bad behavior. You are reenforcing the good!! We have a "goody bag" in that bag there are a few $1 toys from wal-mart as well as cards I have laminated for things such as picking what book is read at bed time, vaccuming, what to do at the YMCA tomorrow, extra 5 minutes with mom/dad, stay up 5 minutes after bedtime, pick what's for dinner tomorrow. Most of the time they'll pick the cards instead of the toys. I have three boys and am an early childhood education teacher.

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There are many methods for devising a reward system for children. However, if the system isn't designed correctly to suit how your unique child is motivated to learn, you will set your child up to fail so be very careful. Catching children being good as opposed to punishing them when they are bad is a very effective approach to behavior.

You need to understand your child's "currency" before you can sevise a reward system that will be pertinent to him. Some people use the Love Languages to get a better idea of what might work for their kids. I find that if you observe the ways a child shows love, it is a tell-tale sign of what they would like back (this is true for adults too :)). Does he like to give you gifts? (Gifts) Is he a big hugger? (Physical Affection) Does he always want more time with one of you? (Quality Time) Does he like to help? (Acts of Service) Is he always telling you what a good mommy you are? (Words of Affirmation). I can't say enough about the Love Languages - it's a heart to heart connection on a subject you don't want to risk any miscommunication on. I recommend the book(s) to everyone.

We are raising a generation of children who only do positive things if they will "get" something out of it. It's better for the child to learn to exhibit positive behaviors because the consequences are positive rather than they will "earn" something for it. I have seen a lot of "What's in it for me?" attitudes out of progressively younger and younger children. Another great book is by Barbara Colorosa - something about Giving your child the gift of self-discipline. Sorry I don't have it in front of me.

Good luck!

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I would try the star chart and everyday they have three things or so, things they have to do like: Help change laundry, put clothes into the dryer or washer. Feed a pet if you have one, make there bed, help pick up toys in there room or play area,help wash dishes, ect. Everyday they do these things they get a star at the end of the week they get a reward weather it be, a special movie they get to watch, have popcorn or if they get three- five dollars ( depending on age and your prefrence) and take them to Target to the little Dollar section they have at the front of the store. My daughter loves it.
I take my husbands 90 year old grandmother to a store three times a week for exercise and my oldest who is three expects to get something all the time so I tell her that she has to earn things and that if she doesnt have the money for it she doesnt get things. At the end of the week if she has been good and helped me around the house then we take grandma to Target to exercise and my daughter gets to pick something out from the dollar bins. Good luck I hope you find something that works

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I am a daycare provider and we started a "Tickets for Treasure" through out the week the kids can earn tickets. You can buy these at Walmart or any office supply store. They earn them for not only picking up toys and helping me. They earn them for being kind to each other, sharing, displaying nice behavior. Catching them in the act of kindness, ect.
Fridays they count up thier tickets and I have 2 tubs one worth 5 tickets, its filled with pencils, matchbox cars, bracelets, bubbles, ect.
Or save them to earn 10 tickets and that has jump ropes, play doh, water paints, crayons, something alittle bit bigger in price.
Kids love it and you can always remind them to try to earn tickets by changing thier behavior.

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i use an old calendar for a chart. my daughter earns stars for getting up good and getting dressed, brushing teeth, going to bed nice, having an all around good day etc....once she fills up 7 spots she earns a quarter to buy gum, rides at the mall, popcorn at the movies etc....once the whole month is filled up she gets to choose something big like a sleepover at grandmas, chucky cheese, the museum and mcdonalds....

she also gets stars taken away for sassing, lingering in the tub etc....we have been using this sytem for over a year and she is 4.

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I would try to keep the "rewards" to non-object type benefits. You don't want to teach your children they can be bought for doing good things. Instead make the rewards something emotional, spiritual, or otherwise. For instance, more one-on-one time with one or both parents, an extra story at bedtime, a trip to a park, lots of extra hugs and kisses, playing games with him, etc.

and I definitely agree - only reward the positive, don't punish for the negative. it's a lot easier to have a happy baby laughing by doing things to make him laugh, than to tell him not to cry, right? Peace!!!

At our church they had a parenting class (which we didn't attend) where they had a really good idea. They have a chart with like 10 squares. The last 4 squares have priveliges on them. Each time the child does something they're not supposed to, argues, doesn't listen immediately, whatever your rules are, you put an 'x' on a square. They get 6 chances before they start losing priveliges. For older kids, you reset the chart each week. For younger ones it's daily. I know this is kind of opposite of what you're asking for, but it seems to be working well for the families I've talked to who are using it (my son is too young still).

My 3 year old has a reward jar. We bought a pack of poker chips and she gets a certain number to put in a jar when she does something good, and we can easily take them away if she breaks a rule. Then when she fills the jar up, she gets a reward.

I don't think anybody's suggested this, but I only skimmed. Another option is to give some sort of stash of tokens every morning, say 4 a day or whatever. For misbehavior, the child has to hand one over. Whatever's left at the end of the day goes into the kitty, and when the kitty is full they get a prize. That way, you're not rewarding every little thing, they get to practice being responsible for their own little tokens during the day, and it teaches delayed gratification and working towards a larger goal. I'm not sure how young you could use this, but I think it's a good one for your back pocket if not now. While I'm all for positive reinforcement, I'm really leary of giving out rewards too easily. That does very little for self-esteem building in the long run.


My aunt does a marble jar with her kids. Everytime they do something good they get 5 marbles and so on depending on what they did. Once the marble jar is full they get to buy something from the store or they get 10 dollars. But you could do whatever you wanted as far as a reward. Thats just an idea.

yes rewards work well with all ages- start simple for you 3 yr old. special story time, going to the park, playing a game( ex: memory, hi ho cherry o, slap jack are very easy games a 3 yr old can play- my 3 yr old loves the hi ho cherry o. This game teaches skills (taking turns & counting) memory really teaches matching & memory skills. Stars & stickers are great for daily rewards then if great behavior continues, you can up the rewards. 1 week = outing for ice cream or burgers at you favorite place. Be creative you know your child the best & what they like. Good luck!

I had a jar on my counter that I put graduated markers on. They had to "earn" books for bedtime, picking which parent put them to bed that night, picking the game or tv program, and the very best "prize" offered was to stay up 5 minutes late!!!! This one was a huge motivater. (my kids are 4 & 6 years old) Each day I started at neutral with the glass half full. Positive behaviors earned marbles placed into the jar and negative behaviors the kids would lose marbles. Each child had their own jar. Good luck!

I see a lot of good suggestions - however - I hesitate to "reward" mine. I want them to learn that doing good things is good in itself. We do occasionally, but that's just me giving in to my husband's desire to reward them :-) This is a good book: "Kids Are Worth It!: Giving Your Child the Gift of Inner Discipline" by Barbara Coloroso

Hi Heataher,

I startred using the PEGS system about 6 months ago and have had great success with my kids. PEGS stands for Parental Encouragement and Guidance System - google it if you are intereested. It is a pegboard with tokens on it. Some represent jobs to be done and another section is for behavior reinforcement - bonuses and penalties. My kids have really jumped onto this bandwagon. They love flipping the tokens to show me their jobs are done and I love getting to praise them without having to ask if the job is done; I just look! The behavior reinforcement is visual and it stays through the day, so it is good for them to see how the day is going. Its kind of like a sticker chart, but much more flexible and it grows with them without you having to make a gazillion charts. My kids are 7, 4, and 6 months. You can pick little rewards or work for a big reward for accomplishments. IT really keeps the focus positive.

I agree with you that an allowance for a 3 year old is a bit premature. Rewards could include a "date" with mom or dad, an extra story at bedtime, extra tv time, an extra trip to the library, an outing to a museum...you name it!

Good luck!

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