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An Age Specific Guide to Reward Systems

Reward systems are a great way to enforce positive habits in kids. Apart from constant appreciation that can raise your child’s self esteem and incentivise them, there are many benefits of reward systems. While the foundation of the reward system is the same for all, making it age-appropriate for your kid can make sure it is effective. 

In this quick guide, we talk about age-friendly ways that you can incorporate reward systems for maximum benefit. 


The Final Step: Making It Age-Friendly, and Implementation

Age 6 and under: Toddlers and Pre-School

At this point, make it a fast-paced reward system. For younger kids, try to keep the timeframe to receive the reward short, so they stay motivated and do not lose focus or interest. Keep the system focused on one behaviour so it does not get overwhelming. Constant appreciation goes a long way for your little ones whenever they do something right. 

Tools-To-Use: Using reward sticker charts is a great tool to visually interest your kid. You can spend a fun weekend creating colorful stickers with your little one and give them one whenever the task is completed. A number of stickers collected can lead to a bigger reward, although that is just a bonus, without which these charts can be effective as well. These can also be digital, with child-friendly financial literacy apps, like Milestone. 

Rewards to Give: For younger kids, it does not necessarily need to be financial rewards or a new game every time they fulfil an objective. Rewards for them can simply be hugs, kisses, smiles or words of appreciation. Reminding them to take stickers as rewards is a good idea and telling them how far they are from a “bigger” reward. 


Age 6-9: Elementary

At this time, reward systems can be a little more complex and work on more behaviours. The goals need to be attainable, and the rewards also need to be on a regular basis so that they are motivated.

Tools-To-Use : This can simply mean a modification to the sticker reward chart – and replacing it with tokens or small monetary rewards. Visual representation is further motivating for kids, where they get a constant “token” that gets them to their desired reward. 

Rewards to Give: The rewards that can act as an incentive are more tangible. Rewards, on a regular basis, can include non-financial rewards such as a trip to the movies or their favourite restaurant. 

Of course, make sure to give them constant words of praise to keep them going! 


Ages 9-12: Middle School

The reward systems can further get more complex at this age. You can set a number of goals, that can be both short-term and long-term, and give bigger rewards when they achieve long-term goals. Make sure to include them in planning, and allocating smaller or bigger rewards to tasks. 

Tools-To-Use: A token economy system is also an effective tool. This system exchanges the tokens that they earn with reward items. You can decide their value, for example, three tokens for an hour of gaming, according to you and your kid.

Rewards To Give: This can be a good time to start a system of pocket money and avoid more eye-catching visual charts. That being said, it is not necessary for the rewards to be financial. Rewards can simply mean late-night weekends or a sleepover. 


Ages 13-18: High Schoolers

Many teens by now, want to strongly avoid anything that feels too elementary – such as sticker charts. Making sure they also understand the value of the task becomes important, not in terms of just the reward they receive. It is important that the idea of “hard work to make the dream work” is conveyed more prominently with longer goal rewards. 

Tools-To-Use: Pocket money is a great incentive. While parents often face dilemmas on the right way to keep giving pocket money and the right amount, this guide has you covered. 

Rewards: Of course, money isn’t the only way. For high-schoolers, allowing special outings and parties as well as a grand sleepover can be a great incentive. 


With Milestone, all this is curated for you. Create a digital reward system and step on the journey that allows easy tracking of their progress and allocation of rewards, with quests to keep your kid motivated!

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