Pom Pom Reward System: A Simple Way to Manage Behaviors at home!

Sometimes people ask how I manage my own children's behaviors. My kids are obviously not perfect and need help to understand how we expect them to behave. We also want them to learn that you don't just get special things every time you ask for it. You need to earn it.

Our plan actually started as a way to manage screen time. For the first few weeks after I had my son, my daughter watched a LOT of TV. We wanted to break the habit, so we went on a screen break for about a week, then we introduced TV tickets. She could earn a TV ticket by following our two basic rules - listen the first time and be kind. She could ask to use one but we approved when you could use them.

This worked really well, but I wanted to have more of a visual for her to see when she was behaving positively and a consequence for when she wasn't. By this time, my son was getting older and we needed to include him in it as well.

Here are the kids' buckets, pink for my daughter and blue for my son.

Here are the kids' buckets, pink for my daughter and blue for my son.

We started our cotton ball/pom pom buckets. Each child has their own bucket where their pom poms stay. You can earn Pom poms by following our three rules (following directions the first time, be kind, do your chores), or for doing other kind & helpful things. I might say to my daughter "thanks for being flexible and letting your brother pick the game, you earn 3 Pom poms".  

5 Pom poms earns you 20-30 minutes of screen time, either a TV show or Leap Pad or kindle time. The adults decide when you can use screen time. The kids can ask but we can say no. A full bucket earns a special activity, like a solo outing with one parent or a family trip somewhere. My daughter has used a full bucket to go to Build-a-Bear, and we've also gone to the science museum as a reward.

If you misbehave, you lose pom poms. If you misbehave and all your pom poms are gone, then you start to lose toys. There are certain behaviors that earn a break on the rug (hitting, kicking, trying to hurt people on purpose) in addition to lost pom poms/toys.

I try to keep up with it and reward in the middle of the day and at the end. If we're seeing a lot of negative behaviors we increase the frequency of giving and taking away cotton balls.

Exception: when the kids are with a grandparent at our home but mom and dad aren't there, Grandma or Nana's rules apply. They don't need to cash in TV tickets for screen time. Nor do they earn or lose pom poms.

From time to time, we've modified the system to meet our needs. We used TV tickets during potty training and as rewards for staying in bed all night. This system currently works for us, but, obviously, as the kids get older, we'll need to figure out what will work then.


Do you use a reward system at home?