Parenting Tip: Rewarding Good Behavior

Being a mother of two is no easy task, supplemented with having an older child with ADHD makes it even more of a challenge, but through everything, and with the support of my wonderful husband, I remain optimistic and confident knowing nothing is impossible. My name is Charity Shilkret, and I’d like to share this story with you.

There was a point in the past year that our 6-year-old son, Lucas, was so addicted to his Nintendo 3DS Mario game that it would be all he would talk about.  He’d burst out at dinner talking about some Koopa-something-or-other.  It was almost scary to see him zoned out and hunched over his video game as if he was possessed. 

charity shilkretSo my husband and I started to tell him that if he played too much videogames, he’d get “Mushy Brain.”  Every time he’d space out during homework or forget something semi-important, we’d tell him “See! It’s Mushy Brain!” Being worried, I researched and found a study from the American Academy of Pediatrics that suggest that suggests kids play no more than 1-2 hours of videogames per day. Lucas never played over this length of time, so I wasn’t too concerned… but the amount of video game playing still had me annoyed.

One afternoon, after a particularly difficult homework session with Lucas’ mind wandering off, I realized that I had to find different incentives to help him get through actually completing his homework. I quickly designed Video Game and Television “Time Tickets” in various increments…and I mean, quick… It took me about 10 minutes on MS Publisher.  I made them cute with lamination, and then, we had a talk with Lucas. He knew about his ADHD, so I can’t exactly blame his spaciness on videogames. I explained to him that I think it contributes to his “mushy brain” (Who knows, maybe it does, maybe it doesn’t).  I told him that every time he completes his homework, he can get 30 minutes of video game and 30 minutes of TV time to use after he finishes. That day, I handed him one 30 minutes of each, turned on the timer, and let him go play. When the timer beeped, to my surprise, he turned off the game and went off to play outside with his 3-year-old brother!  Success!

The next few weeks we learned how to use the cards to our benefit.  Lucas was sweeping up the kitchen for extra minutes, cleaning up the play-room, and DOING HIS HOMEWORK!  But, what was more surprising to me was that he started hanging onto them and started going days without even playing videogames and even days without watching television. He didn’t want to waste his minutes!!   I think he realizes it’s not as fun when he’s cut off at 30 minutes.  The last time he actually used his TV minutes were to watch Michael Jackson music videos on YouTube and to watch X-Factor with the family.  And, yes, he also loses minutes, too…10 minutes here and there for talking back and once lost ALL his minutes for hitting.

One day, my neighbor saw my system and asked me to make her a set of TV and Computer time. This time, I really took the time to design something a little more appealing to kids, and you know what? She loved them! I was so happy with them that I switched out Lucas’ cards with the new design and even he was excited with all the news colors and icons that I used (Yay, kid approved!). 

The key is to be consistent and allow your child to be involved. I realized early on that it’s not the same for me to go and retrieve minutes he wants to use.  It is much more effective when Lucas actually goes to his minute “bank” and hands them over to me. PLUS, it forces him to do his math!  Now that they are up on Etsy, I hope other families will find them just as fun and useful as we do.

To see more of Charity’s work, visit her website here and to purchase you’re very own “Time Tickets”, visit her Etsy store here.

Happy rewarding!




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  1. We used to use a similar system with my step-daughter. She used to earn computer minutes by doing chores, taking a shower (although this was too successful, she went from no showers to us having to limit the amount of showers she could have a week!), And doing homework. We used to have a list on the fridge, but cards sound a much better idea.

    • This system is very helpful! It’s also really helpful that the cards are super cute as well. =) That is funny that you had to limit her showers, hehhe.

  2. Really like this post–I wish I’d seen it years ago! My son is the same way as you describe yours–he was diagnosed with ADD (Inattentive Type) at a young age and he gets fixated on a subject and talks about practically nothing else. All of his spare time is devoted to about two different interests, one being video games. He talks about that and import cars constantly, and most of the time I don’t understand what he is talking about. Your post makes so much sense, and your method probably would have done my son a lot of good. He is 21 now and living in another state, but maybe I can convince him to use this method for a little self-monitoring, if I can think of an incentive that he might be interested in. Thanks for sharing your ideas as time goes on and you learn–that’s how we all learn from them, too!

    • Hi Becky! This is actually not my son..this is from my friend who does paper designs and it just so happens this method works with her ADHD son. =) I thought this was such a creative concept so I had her guest post for me. It is hard for kids to focus on things aside from their interest but there’s lot of methods to help, even if they are a lot older! Thank you for the comment and I’m so happy you find my posts interesting. =)

  3. I have not checked in here for a while because I thought it was getting
    boring, but the last several posts are good quality so I guess I’ll add you back to my
    daily bloglist. You deserve it friend 🙂

  4. How clever of you to think of such a creative solution! I’m always looking for ways to manage my kids better and am now following and comparing the advice of two experts on my blog, Mumalogues.

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