The Ticket System

Or "Why, yes, I do bribe my kids to do normal everyday things. Don't you?"

We needed a little punch in our school/chore/life routine this year. We had a system and I could drag everyone along as we did it, but motivation was lacking. Sorely.

Enter one roll of carnival tickets I purchased at Wal-mart several weeks ago.

I assigned ticket values to pretty much everything the girls do. They can earn one ticket for completing the entire day's worth of school work. They can earn another for doing all their chores for the day. One more for practicing the piano well. I give a ticket for reviewing their Classical Conversations memory work every day. They can also earn an extra for doing a bonus chore.

Now then. They don't have the option to wake up one day and decide they don't want to earn the ticket for the day and thus don't have to do the work. Not at all. It just makes the required activities a bit more fun to do.

Also, they lose tickets for bad attitudes, disobedience, and otherwise poor behavior.

I went to the store and bought a bunch of random stuff like candy, stickers, bubble bath, puzzles, funky socks, etc. – stuff the girls really really like, but I rarely ever buy them save for special occasions. All of that stuff got assigned a ticket price (my ratio ended up being $0.10/ticket, so a $1 item costs them 10 tickets). I keep it all in a big laundry basket we call "The Ticket Store."

I pull The Ticket Store out on the weekends and they get to shop. They have the option to blow all that week's tickets on small items (gum is a fast seller in our ticket store), save it for a larger item, or even combine with a sister to share. It works just like money (sorta).

Last week I bought a few birthday presents for the upcoming birthday girl-to-be. In the past, I've just given the girls something to give to a sister. This time I set up a secret ticket store in the basement and showed them what I purchased and what they had the option to buy for her. This worked like a charm. They saved their tickets up for a couple of weeks and tonight they bought their own presents.

It was fun to watch them this week as they would mentally calculate how many tickets they had and how much Toy A cost in the ticket store. They would ask to do extra things occasionally to earn extra tickets (and I, knowing their motive, was more apt to let them earn extras this week too).

The jury is still out in terms of whether overall this is a good thing or not. I know the girls need to learn to function in our family and serve as part of the family just because they are in our family. On the other hand, we don't pay them an allowance right now, so this kind of takes the place of that.

I'm not sure how long this will last (probably until they figure out that they just cleaned the bathroom for the equivalent of $0.10), but I'll milk it while I can.