Improve Behavior with a Functional Reward System That Builds Memories
February 05, 2022

Improve Behavior with a Functional Reward System That Builds Memories

The only thing left in his bedroom was a mattress! 

After teaching a positive parenting class, the mother approached me and explained how nothing was working with her son. She had taken everything away from him, even his bedroom door! The only thing left in his bedroom was a mattress. 

What do you think I encouraged her to do?

Give it all back.

Too Many Consequences!

Unfortunately her son had given up. He had no motivation to change his behavior. Taking everything away didn’t end up working for either of them. Their relationship was suffering. 

The mother’s extreme focus on following through by taking everything away from her child, showed that she had lost the bigger picture of parenting. The bigger picture of parenting isn’t about following through and taking things away so the child will be obedient in the moment or future. 

Building the Relationship

The bigger picture of parenting is the relationship between the parent and child. Parents can foster this relationship by implementing positive parenting techniques, rather than harsh consequences that create resentment and destroy the relationship. 

It was obvious that this mother’s approach to parenting with too many consequences was not working. It did, in fact, not motivate the child to change their behavior. It was all about the parent having control, instead of having a relationship with the child. 

Instead of focusing on consequences, we can strive to implement positive parenting techniques. There are many techniques parents can use to improve behavior.

The positive parenting course Lead, Guide, Walk Beside: Parenting with Purpose is a great resource to teach you specific ways to parent more positively, strengthen the relationship between you and your children, and increase the peace within your home. 

Positive Reward System

One technique shared within the online program is a positive reward system. These types of systems focus on good behavior rather than bad behavior. When a child is positively rewarded for good behavior, it increases the likelihood of the good behavior. 

You may feel hesitant to implement this type of system, because you don’t want to manage one more thing. I get it. I’m a mom of four kids. I know how all the demands of life are pulling at us as we strive to do our best in raising awesome human beings. The beautiful reality is that it doesn’t have to be something big to manage, and parents can do it on their own timeframe. 

Some may believe that children should only have intrinsic rewards, but the reality is that you have intrinsic and extrinsic rewards. Both are good. It doesn’t need to be an “all or nothing” approach as you are raising your children. 

Let’s look at it from the following perspective. As an adult, are you rewarded for your behavior? Do you show up at work consistently and get a paycheck? Do you get raises from time to time? On a smaller scale, do you ever indulge in a special treat, because you’ve worked hard and want to reward yourself? I certainly do. For me it’s a homemade chocolate milkshake. Oftentimes we reward ourselves and it’s ok to reward our children. 


Memory Makers!!

The Memory Maker positive reward system for children encourages good behavior, while also creating an opportunity to make memories as a family. When children have good behavior, they are RANDOMLY rewarded with a Memory Maker wooden token. After your child receives 20 wooden tokens in their individual jar, they are in charge of how the family will make a memory together. The child’s idea will need to be approved by the parents. 

Rather than an individual reward of a treat or prize, Memory Makers are designed to benefit the entire family. Treats and prizes don’t last, but memories do. 

Everyone in the family benefits from good behavior! When one child earns their 20 wooden tokens, everyone is rewarded by participating in the memory together. This also cuts down on the likelihood of becoming competitive. Instead, we can cheer each other on.

Teach Before Implementing

Before implementing the Memory Maker positive reward system with your family, be sure to teach the expectations. Let your children know that they will NOT be rewarded for every single good behavior. Days or weeks could go by with no Memory Makers given, even if they’ve had good behavior. It is literally up to you as the parent, when you are in the mood and have time to give them out. 

Let your children know that you will be watching and listening for good behavior. Teach expectations as well as limitations. If a child were to ever ask for a Memory Maker, they would not get one. They are randomly rewarded. Share some scenarios about how they could earn Memory Makers. You could simply talk about different scenarios, or take it to the next level by role-playing scenarios and letting them see it. Act it out as the parents, or use toys to act out various scenarios. 

How to Earn

Here are some examples of how to earn Memory Makers, but YOU get to decide how your own children will randomly earn them.

1- Being a first-time listener.

2- Serving a sibling.

3- Completing expectations with a good attitude.

4- Responding kindly.

5- Consistently keeping their room clean. 

6- Do something without being asked. 

7- Having a good attitude. 

It’s important to explain that everyone will be rewarded at different times, and we should all be happy for one another. When we have good behavior we can always have a good feeling inside, whether or not we receive a Memory Maker. There’s the intrinsic reward! We can feel good about our good behavior, whether or not we receive a Memory Maker. Making good choices and having a good attitude helps the entire family. It literally increases the peace in our homes. Every family member can contribute to that peace. 

Thus far, of all the different types of positive rewards systems I’ve used throughout sixteen years of parenting, the Memory Maker positive reward system is the only one that has lasted.

I’ve tried different ones, lost motivation, and stopped. Good intentions turned into burned out ideas.

Once we started implementing Memory Makers, we saw and felt the difference. This was not a demanding system, it was on our timeframe and it worked! We had finally developed a system that was realistic, motivating, and built lasting memories. 

Reward Randomly

Memory Makers work because you do not have to police the system. You can literally offer Memory Makers when the child exhibits positive behavior AND when you are in the mood. Yet another opportunity to not feel guilty! You are already doing so much good by showing up for your kids every single day. Memory Makers are a bonus to the good you are already doing. It’s not something you need to worry about or make sure you do every day or even every week. 

The beauty of this system is that you can stop and start whenever you’d like to. Our family has been implementing the Memory Maker positive reward system for 8+ years. Throughout three different moves we’ve packed it all up, eventually unpacked it, and started it up again. Months at a time were taken off. I believe the following factors have helped with our implementation success.

1- It is random.

2- It is motivating.

3- It is appropriate for all ages. 

As of 2022 when I write this blog post, all of my children are still motivated by the Memory Makers positive reward system. Their ages range from 16 to 8 year olds. Effective reward systems are applicable for all ages. 

Whenever we are having a Memory Maker experience, all of the children talk about what they want to do when it’s their turn to be in charge of the next Memory Maker experience. Of course their ideas change as quick as their ideas for Halloween costumes. 

It is important to understand that once your child has earned their Memory Maker, it is theirs. They cannot be taken away, even if they have bad behavior. This positive reward system focuses on the good and should never be used as a negative consequence. 

Another advantage of the positive reward system for young children is the natural opportunity to think mathematically. They count how many they have, and figure out how many more then need to get to 20. Every time my kids earn one, they are sure to count them all out and figure out how many more they need. 

Memory Maker Activity Ideas

Some ideas for Memory Maker experiences have included, but are not limited to, going to movies, out for shakes, roller skating rink, snowboarding, skateboarding, shopping at the thrift store, out to eat, movie night at home, arcade, trampoline park, Woodward, etc. 

My teenage son loves to go thrift store shopping, so he picked thrifting and out to eat for his Memory Maker experience. The family was split up as the girls went one way and the boys went the other. We tried on different and ridiculous clothes, yet only a few were purchased. When we met back up my younger son, who was about 10 years old, was wearing a t-shirt with Buddy the Elf on it. The shirt read, “Son of a Nutcracker.” 

While I love the show Elf, I did not love the shirt, and I did not love that he was wearing it without it first being washed. I was complaining to my husband Mitch about how the phrase brought a swear word phrase to mind, and I didn’t want him to wear it. My 10 year old son quickly interjected, “Mom, don’t worry about it. When you see it just think, ‘Son of a Mitch.’” Not better. Not better at all. Closer to the phrase that included the swear word! Long story short, the shirt was again donated to the thrift store. This is just one example of the fun and funny memories we’ve made together as a family. 

This positive reward system is a win-win for everyone involved. Kids exhibit good behavior and are randomly rewarded, you show appreciation for their good behavior, good behavior increases, and the entire family is rewarded by making lasting memories together!

Related Article:

Positive Parenting Techniques to Implement Immediately with Online Course