One of the most important aspects of parenting is training. Many verses in the Bible talk about instructing your children. But sometimes it is hard to know how to discipline the little things your kids do wrong or how to meaningfully reward the good things that they do right. I’m sure there are lots of ways to accomplish this, but I have found one that has worked so well that I want to share it with all of you.
One day I was at a store and I saw a shelf with “Admit One” tickets. I decided to buy four different colors for my four older kids. Thus began our ticket system. Every week the kids hang a chain of 10 tickets on the refrigerator. At the end of the week they get to keep their chains and use the tickets to “purchase” items from our treasure box, or they may trade them in for cash…we do 10 tickets = $1.
However, through the week, I may have them remove tickets from their chain for small infractions…the things that tend to be rooted in carelessness rather than defiance but still need to be addressed. For example, I may say, “You forgot to replace the trash bag when you did your chores this morning. Please take one ticket off your chain.” Or, “Your dresser drawers were left open again. Please go close them, then throw away one ticket.” When they have all 10 tickets at the end of the week they are very excited!!
So that’s the gist. Here are some other benefits, uses, and suggestions for this ticket system:
I especially like using tickets for areas that we are focusing on. For example, being a homeschooling family, our classroom gets very messy very fast! So we might have a classroom campaign where I train them on my expectations. And while we’re focusing on that area, I’ll take away tickets at the end of the school day if they don’t pass inspection. Other areas I have focused on are responding correctly when spoken to (“Ok, mommy” or “Yes m’am”), putting dirty laundry in the hamper, and completing chores thoroughly.
Because the tickets are exchangeable for money, they give the kids opportunity to learn financial responsibility. If the tickets are lost, they are null and void. We have our kids determine a specific place that they plan to keep their tickets…a drawer, a coin purse, a pencil box, etc. They may receive a penalty if I find them laying around because I want the kids to learn to be faithful stewards.
Having a different color for each kid will eliminate the problem of arguing over whose tickets were found under the couch cushion. Just sayin’…
The kids can ask to do “ticket jobs” during their free time. I have a list of household jobs beyond their regular chores like cleaning out the microwave, dusting, cleaning the mirrors, wiping crayon off the walls with a magic eraser (I have two toddlers!), wiping down blinds, air vents, baseboards, etc. We decided not to give them a regular allowance, so this gives them (especially the older kids) an opportunity to earn extra money by working around the house. A few months ago a family at our church was raising money for an adoption; my kids worked hard doing ticket jobs so they could fill a baby bottle with coins. It blessed me greatly to see them working so hard to help this family. (And big bonus, the house was really clean!!)
Appropriate for Ages 3-12
In the years that I have used this system my kids have ranged from 3 to 11. It has been very effective for all of them. My current 3 yr old loves getting stickers, little trinkets, and sometimes candy from our treasure box. I recently got a roll for my 2 yr old so he wouldn’t feel left out. He doesn’t really understand it yet, but the tickets are fun to push around in his dump truck, and apparently they taste good too. 😉
This is one of my favorite things! Sometimes if a child has victory in an area they have struggled in or do something helpful without being asked, I like to randomly give them tickets that they don’t expect. For example, “Wow, you did such a good job cleaning up your room, and I didn’t even have to ask you to do it! Why don’t you go get two bonus tickets.” These are also in addition to the ones hanging on the fridge. This is a tangible, visible way of reinforcing their good choices, and the kids just glow when they get bonus tickets!
Below is a link to a helpful companion resource. It’s called the “If-Then” Chart, and it helps parents pre-determine consequences for various infractions. If you and your husband and the kids know ahead of time what course of action you will take for their disobedience or carelessness, it keeps you from having to think on your feet, which is especially difficult in a moment of frustration. Hope this helps!!
“For whom the Lord loveth He correcteth; even as a father the son in whom he delighteth.” Proverbs 3:12