We are well into January and if you or your child has set goals or resolutions, it’s entirely likely that you are at the point where you are considering whether they are worth it or not. In fact, the New York Post says that tomorrow, yes, tomorrow, January 17, is the day most people start to waffle on their commitment to a goal.

But not us! Not this year! And not our kids, either. Why? Because today we are talking about rewards, and who doesn’t get a shot of desire to keep going when they know a reward is hanging out there? Rewards are great, and they work.

I do want to note here that rewards are very different from bribes. Rewards should be something that you spell out in advance. What must your child do, and what will you provide in return? A reward system that is agreed upon in advance can be a powerful tool to motivate behavior. It also can teach kids that hard work is worth being celebrated. I also think this is where we can teach our kids to figure out creative ways to reward themselves in various ways as they get older.

Now, how you reward yourself as an adult and how you reward your child probably looks pretty different. You and I know what will motivate us, but it can be hard to remember what might have kept us going when we were so much younger. So I wanted to help you think differently about what rewards for your hard-working students might look like. Here are 30 ways to reward your child.

Rewards that are FREE!

  1. Praise them. Because praise works, and praise is EASY.
  2. Phone time. Let them call someone they don’t usually get to talk to.
  3. Read aloud time. They pick the book.
  4. Stay up late one night. That’s like hitting the jackpot for a pre-teen or teen!
  5. Pick dinner for the family one night. (But you may be on the spot for preparing it!)
  6. Puzzle time together. This could be fun or frustrating, depending on your kid.
  7. Rearrange their room. Freshen it up, and it may get cleaned in the process.
  8. Play a video clip. Something fun on YouTube that they might not see otherwise.
  9. Bonus screen time. Even just 15 minutes of screen fun can be motivating.
  10. Pick the movie for movie night. Within reason, of course.
  11. Have a friend over for a sleepover. A huge prize if they don’t normally have these.
  12. DJ for the day–they control what music gets played for a whole day. Please, no Baby Shark.
  13. Take a day off from chores. Everyone needs a day off sometimes!
  14. Extra responsibilities (like taking care of a friend’s pet or being trusted with bigger tools in the yard or kitchen). Feeling a little more grown-up is a great thing..
  15. Get crafty. Turn them loose with the art supplies.
  16. STEM at home. Let them do an easy science fair project that they’ve been wanting to try.
  17. Have a friend over or visit a friend. A step down from a sleepover, but still a ton of fun.
  18. Volunteer. If they’re old enough and interested, this can be a great reward!
  19. Go for a bike ride. The wind in your hair can make everyone feel great.
  20. Visit an aunt and uncle or grandparents. Who knows, you might end up being rewarded with some time off, too!

Rewards that Might Cost You Just a Little Bit

  1. Paint their room. Even just one wall can make a huge difference.
  2. Pick some fave photos and get them printed out to keep. Physical prints can be a big deal in a digital world!
  3. Buy them an app they’ve been begging for. It might be the best $1.99 you’ve spent in a while.
  4. Stickers or washi tape. But lay some ground rules on where they go.
  5. Ice cream. Ok, so sometimes it’s just the right choice. Because ice cream always works, am I right?
  6. Go swimming. Find the indoor rec center if it’s winter.
  7. Visit a museum. Their choice.
  8. Go to a movie. Again, their choice!
  9. Get them a magazine. This is a real treat; have you seen how much magazines run these days?
  10. Bake something together. Fun to do, fun to eat!

Got any great ideas to add to the mix? Email me or share them in the Facebook group.

Talk to you soon,

Nicole the Math Lady