For very young children rewards need to be kept immediate and obvious. We recommenced that their Reward Box is kept somewhere accessible (maybe in the kitchen / playroom or near the toilet for potty training). Throughout the day the box can be referred to and tokens can be awarded and immediately posted.
The act of receiving a token and posting it into the box will be a treat in itself, and seeing a token removed from the box sends a powerful reminder when they overstep the boundaries you are trying to establish.
An achievable target ( between 5 and 10 tokens) should be set each day and at the end of each day you can incorporate the counting of the tokens and remembering what they were received for (re-enforcing messages around what is good behaviour) into their bedtime routine.
The box can also be used to target specific behavioural goals / achievements (such as 'being kind', potty training, getting undressed and dressed, staying in bed until a certain time), which can be empathised as as theme for the week and tokens can be given each time they achieve the particular target (i.e. trying a new food / staying in their bed all night)
If the target has been reached for the day we recommend that a small reward is left in the box (in place of the tokens) overnight. This should be a gesture gift such as a sticker, a small sweet, a promise voucher for a treat such as a visit to the park or a very little toy in the case of really good behaviour.
For more details on the sorts of goals you may wish to set for this age group and for ideas on small rewards please visit our 'Using the Reward Box with Toddlers' page
For slightly older children the use of their Reward Box can be adapted to start to encourage more advanced behavioural goals and to develop their imagination.
We recommend setting out 3-6 key areas of focus (goals) for that week (for example making their bed, using their manners, brushing their teeth well, sharing their toys). These goals should be clearly explained and discussed with your child so they understand how they can achieve them. At the beginning of the week we also recommend picking a prize / reward together which they are working towards for the the week (a family trip to the park, a movie night together, a trip to the bakers to choose a treat). Alternatively you may ask your child to start to make a choice over their rewards (for example would they prefer a small sweet treat each day they have achieved their goal or would they rather save their tokens for a larger prize at the end of the week? (this helps develop a child's sense of decision making as well as introducing the concept of saving)
At the end of each day you can discuss each goal and determine whether they have earned a coin in this area or not (they should be encouraged to participate in this, giving examples of where they feel they have done well and where they feel they could do better tomorrow). We recommend you aim to give 2-4 tokens per day, rewarding the areas where they have done well and focusing on how they can do better tomorrow for the ones where they have not earned a token.
This is also a key age for developing your child's imagination so you may chose to introduce an element of 'magic' by saying the 'Good Behavious' 'fairies' or 'pirates' will be visiting while they sleep to exchange their tokens for a their treat or little voucher for their reward.
For more details on the sorts of goals you may wish to set for this age group and for ideas on small rewards please visit our 'Using the Reward Box with Pre-Schoolers' page
As your children develop and start to make the transition towards receiving pocket money the Reward Box can grow with them, acting as a way to immediately reward the completion of basic chores (for example they receive a token for setting the table), to encourage the completion of homework and to recognise when children have gone above and beyond what is expected of them. It can also be used to start to differentiate the effort involved in chores (maybe making their bed is only worth one token but doing the washing up earns two). At the end of the week they can be encouraged to use their tokens to 'buy' things for example maybe they will chose to use half of the tokens to purchase a special day but to exchange the others for real money to put in their money box.
For more details on the sorts of goals you may wish to set for this age group and for ideas on small rewards please visit our 'Using the Reward Box with School Children' page
As well as rewarding good behaviour and the completion of goals and chores your child's Reward Box can be used in other ways to encourage their development and sense of play. Please note that we do not recommend that your child plays with their Reward Box unsupervised under the age of 3).
Here are a few ideas: