Behavior Incentive plan for 8-12 yr olds

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Recently I hit a wall in my parenting skills. My girls are now 8, 10 and 12. They are so smart and I am out numbered! I began to feel like my girls expected the world to be given to them and they started getting really cranky and fussy when asked to contribute around the house. Our home was out of balance.

I sought some wise council and this is what we came up with: Poker Chips! Sounds silly, huh? The girls are too old for stickers and I was exhausted at the thought of creating another chart. Poker chips are our new way of life. Hopefully not forever…but they are working really nicely for now!

I bought a box. Each color chip is worth a different monetary value. They earn them by doing different things! Steve and I are the bankers! My youngest daughter loved the thought that her good choices could earn her money (this is EXACTLY what we wanted!) just as our middle daughter. Our oldest child who is 12, laughed at us. She thought this was “dumb” and she didn’t care about earning the chips.

It started off like this:

  • Red Chips – you can earn an unlimited amount per┬áday for being kind, sharing, using good manners, etc. We made these worth $0.50!
  • Blue Chips – You can earn up to one per day of these for getting your chores done, without us asking. This is worth $1.
  • White – Only two of these will be given out (collectively) each week for when we feel like you or your sisters are a “huge help!” These are worth $2.
  • Green – Only one green chip will be given out each week for being kind to others. We are looking for our girls to show kindness above and beyond outside of our home. These are worth $5.
  • Black – This is worth $10 and is for the rock star behavior that blew us out of the water. These are rare.

So the first week you have to reward with praise and chips…a lot. This motivates them to want more and more! The second week, the rules changed a little. We made them start negotiating in chips. For instance, if Maci wants to wear Emma’s shirt, she will have to give Emma a chip to do so. The third week, we really upped our game. We bought tickets for the family to go to a baseball game later this week and we have told the kids that in order to go they will need to pay us 5 chips a piece. One child has her chips already, the other two are asking what they can do to get more chips.

Remember how I said that our oldest was NOT on board and thought this system was “dumb?” Well, she is very much on board today! She liked being able to earn herself a sleepover this week with a poker chip. She got sassy and lost a chip and is not short what she needs for the baseball game this week. Now she is offering to do stuff for her sisters so they will pay her a chip.

I love the team work that this has helped bring to our home! We aren’t out any money (yet) and the girls are being more helpful then ever! The fights over clothes has stopped, the sassing back has dramatically improved and they are learning that things aren’t free!

Some of the items that they will now be paying for (with chips) include: special outings, sweet treats when we are out and about, privileges like sleep overs or park play dates.

At the end of the month, they are free to turn in all of their chips for cash but we will only cash out ONCE a month, so they have to plan accordingly.

On a side note, we have great kids…they just need to be reeled back in every now and then! Summer is coming and I do not want to deal with attitudes! I have a chart of all of the fun things I want to do with them over the summer and we plan to mark them off as we go…so they know what is at stake and what the summer can look like if they keep up the hard work and continue to make great choices in behavior and actions! They will get some “freebies” from us on treats and outings because we aren’t TOO crazy! We are hoping after a few months we can let this system go and the girls will be in the habit of making great choices, doing their chores, etc.

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  1. That is a really neat system! I wonder how I could adapt it to an only child? Really cool idea!

    • Courtney Solstad says:

      No need to adapt… when they want treats, sleep overs, to go do fun things…it costs chips! Chips can be earned in tons of different ways! Being kind to strangers, making good grades, helping without being asked… you name it!

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