The information on this page is designed to be a guide to some of the ways you can use your Reward Box with your Pre-Schooler (aged approximately 3 - 5 years). We have also included some suggestions for Rewards that are suitable for this age group and which we have used ourselves.
We are always on the lookout for new ideas so if you have anything you think we have missed please do contact us (either through our Contact Us page or via our social media (links below)) to let us know what has worked for you.
As children get older and start to be getting ready to make the transition to pre-school / school the Reward Box can be a great way of developing social skills and enforcing good habit and behaviour. At this age children tend to have better attention spans and are able to start to move from receiving daily small rewards to collecting tokens over a few days / a week for a slightly larger reward. For ideas on what you might offer as rewards please see below.
As with Toddlers there are two main ways that the Reward Box can be made to work with pre-schoolers. Either as a daily encouragement of good behaviour or to tackle particular (age related) behavioural issues. We will explore both options here and we recommend that you mix it up. Try using it for a few weeks on a daily basis and then (if they seem to be loosing interest) use it to focus on a particular behavioural goal (such as staying in bed or breaking habits such as dummies).
On a day to day basis you can literally use the tokens to recognise any form of good behaviour. Have a weekly / twice weekly goal that your child has to reach to receive a reward (for example 15 tokens), and aim to give these out as evenly as you can over the days until they receive their reward.
Make the counting of their tokens a part of their daily routine and use it as a time to reflect on the things they did really well and the things they could improve on to do better the next day. This can be a great way to develop mathematics skills as you count the tokens from that day and add then to the ones that are already in the box from the previous days and then work out how many more are required.
When they have received enough token to earn a Reward it can be fun to introduce an element of magic (such as a visit from the fairies). Pre bedtime talk about how well they have done and the good behaviour that has got them the tokens how the fairy / pirate will visit in the night and will leave a reward. If your child isn't keen on this idea you can stick to saying that you will replace the tokens while they are asleep with a reward.
The excitement in our house on the nights when 'Lo Lo the Fairy' or 'Bear the Pirate' are due to come is fabulous and the children's faces when they come running in the next morning with the Reward is truly magical.
Getting up / Staying in Bed: tokens can be given in exchange for children sticking to the agreed getting up times once this is an established routine the threat of removing a token is often enough to mean they stay in bed until the agreed time (at this age this is often best managed using a gro-clock set to a specific time and being clear they are not allowed up until the sun is showing)
Morning Routines: by this age your child will be familiar with their morning routine and will be starting to complete parts of it by themselves (for example putting on their own clothes). Tokens can be used to reward the completion of the required steps (for example if they have dressed, brushed their teeth and put their shoes they receive a token but only if they have done so without having to be asked repeatedly). This can encourage speed (much needed as you start to move towards the hectic deadlines of school drop offs!). If you are struggling with the amount of time everything takes then you might want to try putting an egg timer next to the box and rewarding completion of tasks within the time (thanks for this fantastic idea goes to one of our customers Carrie E)
Personal Hygiene: as your children start to do more and more by themselves you can encourage activities such as washing their hands after they have been to the toilet, brushing their teeth after meals etc with tokens to establish good habits in preparation for school
Kindness and Sharing: If you child is kind and shares a toy you can instantly recognise the good behaviour with them and say how proud you are and how they have earned a token, alternatively if they demonstrate the wrong behaviour (pushing or taking a toy forcibly) they can have a token removed and you can explain how they might better handle that situation next time (asking for a turn etc)
Chores - this is the perfect for age to start to encourage children to help with basic chores. Some ideas of simple activities are listed below and tokens can be used to reward their efforts:
Putting away toys
Sweeping / cleaning up small spills and crumbs
Making their bed
Putting clean clothes back into the right drawers
Laying the table for dinner
Manners: as your child learns to use manners and develop their social skills you can start to reward this behaviours, for example asking politely for an item in a shop
Eating: many parents are reluctant to reward children for eating. Whilst this is understandable (due to the potential to teach children to overide their natural triggers for knowing when they are full) your Reward Box can still be used to reward things like trying a new food or finishing a portion of vegetables
Whining and Not Listening: the approach for using the Reward Box to help deal with whining and 'not listening' is much the same as with tantrums. Clearly state that a continuation of the behaviour will result in the loss of a token and then follow up a re-enforcement of good behaviour / listening etc
Bedtime Routines: by this age your child will be familiar with their bedtime routine and will be starting to complete parts of it by themselves (for example putting they night clothes on). Tokens can be used to reward the completion of the required steps (for example if they have put on their PJs, brushed their teeth, gone to the toilet and got into their bed they receive a token but only if they have done so without having to be asked repeatedly). You may also wish to reward staying in bed after lights out with another token if they do so until morning
We have found that giving rewards works best for us on a Saturday morning. The children often go to bed very well on the Friday night with the promise of a visit from the Fairy / Pirate (giving us some well earnt down time). My son likes to keep his treasure chest next to his bed in the hope he will catch a glimpse of his magical friend, but my daughter prefers hers to stay downstairs in the lounge as she doesn't like the idea of someone coming into her room.
If a specific reward hasn't been agreed in advance we will often tie in the rewards with the activities we have planned as a family for the weekend. For example a pocket kite when we had a windy park day or when we had a trip to Legoland planned the children both received a note saying this was their reward and calling out the 2 / 3 things they did really well that week to earn it (needless to say this went down very well and was perfect as the trip was planned anyway!)
We found the gro-clock to be a fantastic tool with a reward system built around it, i.e. after your story the moon comes up and you aren't allowed out of bed (except for using the toilet) from then until the yellow sun appears. We gave 3 tokens, one for going to sleep without a fuss, another for staying in their bed for the whole night, and the third for for not getting out of bed in the morning before the sun on the clock. Once they had collected 10 tokens they were rewarded with a small toy or something they had asked for in a toy shop. We kept at this for just over 2 weeks (remaining consistent and simply not rewarding tokens when the rules weren't met) and our children now both sleep in their own beds for the whole night (barring illness) without the need for any rewards. We have other customers who have noted similar success stories (one in as little as 5 days!)
A Promise Voucher for an activity can be a lovely reward (especially if it is something they love doing and it involves getting time together as a family). here are some ideas: