Rooney's reward jar


Some of you asked about Rooney's reward jar after I mentioned it on this post. I hesitated to write about it, because we are NOT perfect at this at all. We are not perfect parents and we do not have a perfect kid. But I feel like we have had some success with it, and it's nice to hear what other parents are trying. This was an idea we took away from a parenting class we took last fall. I think when we signed up for the class, we thought it would teach us how to discipline her when she does something wrong, and we did learn some tips for that, but the main takeaway was that many disciplinary issues clear up after you start praising your child and noticing the good things they do. It makes them want to do good things!


Every time we catch Rooney doing something good, we offer her a ball to put in her reward jar. We're not perfect or consistent, but we try our best. Once the jar is full, she gets to pick a fun family activity for us all to do together. The idea would be that when baby boy gets old enough to participate, they would both fill the same jar (though the jar may be bigger then). :-) The hope is that the jar gets filled every week or every other week.

Examples for ages 2-3:

  • If she is patient while we are getting ready in the morning, she gets a ball.
  • If she says "please" and "thank you" without prompting, (sometimes) she gets a ball.
  • If she helps set the table, she gets a ball.
  • If she brings me her laundry basket on laundry day, she gets a ball.
  • If she cleans up her toys, she gets a ball.

Older kids might get a ball for putting away their laundry, clearing their plate after dinner without being asked, helping a sibling in a kind way, etc. (In our experience, Rooney does better with immediate edible rewards for things like going on the potty and staying in her bed at night, so we don't give her balls for those.)


  1. She doesn't often ask for a ball, but one of the rules is that Eric and I decide when a ball goes in. If she asks for one, she won't get one. (I will admit we don't follow this rule.)
  2. Balls can only go in the jar - we never take them out.


These don't have to cost a lot of money! Some reward ideas:

  • Ice cream outing (Rooney's favorite pick)
  • Pizza & movie night
  • Popcorn night
  • Candlelight dinner at home
  • Family fort building
  • Family game of tag
  • Family board game
  • Screen time
  • Saturday morning donuts
  • Bubble bath
  • Family bike ride
  • Trip to zoo or science museum
  • Be swung in a blanket
  • Stay up 15 minutes late

(Our felt balls are from Hello Maypole and the jar is an old Starbucks frappucino bottle. Rooney's dress in the top photo is from H&M.)


Do you do anything like this with your kids?