Stamp Chart Reward System

Sometimes it can be really difficult to get kids to cooperate when you need them to. Believe me, I know. My kids can be as stubborn and ornery as their mom and dad.

One of the best ways that I’ve come up with to get the kids to help out is a stamp chart. It looks like this:

Stamps could easily be exchanged for stickers, but we use stickers elsewhere and my girls really enjoy the process of getting to ink the stamp and press it on paper, so it’s more rewarding for them.

The kids can earn a stamp in a few different ways:

1. Picking up their own messes/cleaning up toys

2. Eating like a civilized person and not throwing stuff

3. Not whining or hitting, aka trying to express emotions with words

4. A day without TV

5. Filling a row on the potty sticker chart

The rewards on the chart are usually a fun trip or activity that the kids enjoy. We try to keep the cheap, easy rewards towards the top and more expensive rewards for the end of the chart. This requires quite a bit of help from the girls to actually get to go do something like go out to eat or go to the riverwalk. The chart ends on the last day of the month, so it’s possible to reach the end without acquiring every reward–and that’s okay, too. It’s okay to not get everything. I want them to see that sometimes you don’t win, and working harder improves your odds. Right now when one of them earns a stamp they both get it, but that will change soon.

This is intended as an active, exciting way to engage them in the process of learning how to help out and pick up after themselves. It’s also a precursor to earning an allowance, or “salary.”

Having said all of this, sometimes it doesn’t work. One kid is almost 3 and the other is going on 2, so they often know better than mom and dad or just want to be bratty (as indicated by the accompanying smirk they give), but it’s alright. Some kind of system is better and more successful than no system at all.

The Importance of Ritual

I have my first ever couples massage tomorrow! All I have for you today is some heart to heart words of encouragement.

Life can be exhausting–trust me, I know. Sometimes I wake up not sure how I’m going to get through the day. Sometimes I see the dishes in the sink and the toys on the floor and give an exasperated sigh.

It’s okay to get tired and burnt out, it’s just the way it goes–we’re human, we can only handle so much. Sometimes the shrill, high-pitched scream of my younger daughter grates on my nerves one too many times or my tired toddler’s whining just gets to me. What’s important is how you handle it. I generally have a three tiered system for hard days:

1. Stop and take a deep breath. If your kids are frustrating you, try your best go empathize. Maybe they don’t know how to express that they’re tired, hungry, or just need you. And that’s okay, they’re kids. I find that I can often talk my toddler through figuring out what she needs.

2. Fall back on the basic routine. Don’t stress over housework, chores, or anything extra, just the bare bones necessities. So for me diapers, food, nursing, naps–the dishes and toys will be there to pick up later.

3. If this isn’t working, We get up and change the scenery. We go to the library, park, sit at a favorite haunt, or even just go walk somewhere for a while. Changing the scenery really helps me and the kids when we’re all in sour moods and brightens the day.

And last of all, it’s important to have time to yourself, for your sake as well as theirs. Make sure that you make time for your significant other and for keeping in touch with who you are and your own interests. Make it a regular part of your routine, even if it’s only five minutes in the shower alone. You’ll be thankful for the break. Though I know it’s easy to do, don’t get lost in being a parent.