How to offer the right incentives for kid chores

It all started with a post I put out on FB looking for advice.

“SEEKING ADVICE: I’m looking for a rewards system to use with my kids (ages 3, 5, 8) to help them keep their rooms clean. We already have a rewards system in place for bedtime that uses screen time for a reward. I’d like the reward to be something fairly immediate (not- you get a toy every two weeks type of thing) and would like to avoid giving straight cash. Suggestions? Thanks guys.”

Initially the responses were just for me to use with my own kids, but, after getting permission from those that gave me suggestions, I thought I would share these rewards system tips from other dads around the country.


“The system we use in our house is a marble system for everything. Getting up and ready in the morning, cleaning up after yourself, doing a chore, good behavior etc. When they are successful at one of these things, they get a marble in a jar with their name on it. When they are having a hard time with something, following rules, talking back, etc. then they lose marbles. The marbles they get/lose can be weighted by what you want to work on more or the size of the job. At the end of the set time frame (a week works well) they get to “cash in” the marbles they’ve earned for a variety of things…extra screen time, a desert, special drink with dinner, special dinner, get out of chore’s for the day, trip to the mall, movie night or straight up cash (we do .25 per marble. This system has been VERY successful for us. We have had to alter the system to reflect what will work at different times and what rewards will motivate them but it is easy to alter! Hope this idea helps!”

Lonnie’s system brought up the question of kids constantly asking/begginig for marbles…even for the simplest of chores. He responded…

“That hasn’t been a problem, we set WHAT they get them for and keep pretty firm to that unless it needs to be altered. For the most part, they earn them for chores (which is written out and set) and then for being kind to each other (sharing) or a good outing such as grocery store etc. I usually give ONE for being dressed and ready for school on time but my 6 yr old fails to do this and needs a little incentive so he gets it broken down to one for dressing by a certain time, one for brushing teeth well and one for getting out the door on time. We will scale it back after he gets into a better rhythm. Each kid has a certain focus point they need to work on so it works out. We use to use a simple sticker chart but our kids are pretty challenging and that wasn’t enough to work on them. Otherwise, I agree, simple is better! What works with this is the visual (seeing marbles in a jar) Good behavior adds more in, poor behavior and your jar starts to get empty. All 5 jars are next to each other so they can see and compare their progress….4 boys equals a lot of competition in the house so they thrive on it! ”

“My kids are 9, 7, 6, 3 and 1 so figured the marbles have been tested for a similar age group and work.”


“I’m for one system serves all things. We do the a similar thing just “points” and they get traded in for video games on Sunday. Not enough points, no video games and back to zero.”


“Try a private blog for family only (grandparents, aunts and uncles, etc.). Or you could just use your FB page. The kids can record their achievements/completed responsibilities (under your guidance) through pictures, drawings, short messages, and so on, which you and your extended family can comment on. Family praise, the usage of the tech/screen time and the process itself is the reward. Plus- you’re teaching your kids face-to-face and online appropriate behaviors and responsibility.”

Mike of



“I haven’t tried this personally since my son is 4 months old, but an extended family member uses this method…a ticket system (actually go out and buy a long spool of like raffle tickets) and every time they do something like chores give them a ticket and let them turn in tickets for stuff they want (she used it for an in game app purchase her son was asking for). She said it works well and its all positive reinforcement.”

“If your family is really nerdy like mine theres a book out there called Geek Dad that has a leveling up system kind of like a DnD style system for chores.”


If there are any you’d like to add, please leave them in the comments below, maybe I will include them in a follow up post.


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