Encourage good behavior with a homemade puzzle

Another hack-tastic reward system! The beauty of this system is that the reward itself acts as a reminder about the desired behavior. From Sarah:

My 7 year-old son can be particularly stubborn and no matter how much we beg, plead, or reason with him, he stands his ground. Sometimes I resort to bribery. He likes puzzles so I came up with puzzles to help him do certain things.  It started the summer before Kindergarten — he already knew how to tie his shoes, but claimed that he “forgot” how over the summer since he wore sandals all summer.  So I found a pair of running shoes that he wanted online (I used Zappos.com) and printed out two full-sized  pictures.  One was in color and the other black and white.  I then decided that I wanted him to tie his shoes for two weeks on his own before I would buy him the shoes he wanted so I cut the colored picture into the appropriate number of “puzzle” pieces.  Then every time he tied his shoes on his own he earned one piece that he could tape onto the black and white picture in the correct spot.  When the puzzle was complete we ordered him his shoes.

The puzzle also worked in getting rid of a nasty nose rubbing habit that was making his face raw (I made a giant nose puzzle and he earned a Star Wars DVD).  Next we are thinking of a finger puzzle to see if we can tackle nail-biting.

Related: Toilet training rewards that don't involve candy
Reusable reward systems


  1. Linda says

    wow…I LIKE that idea! We tried a “rewards chart” but it didn’t really work for my dd (who is in kindergarten). I think I will do that with my daughter…maybe we can cure her backtalk that way.

  2. jessie says

    if you can think of any good puzzle ideas for curing backtalking, please inform us! i expected an attitude from my dd at 13 but not at this age!!!

  3. Jill says

    @Jessie: The image is irrelevant really. Pick something appealing to her and then start noticing when she doesn’t talk back. That’s actually the hardest part. As soon as you start pointing out how much you enjoy her cooperation you may get improvement. I too have a backtalking kindergartener. We started by simply pulling him aside one day and telling him that we would snap our fingers when he needed a “do-over” for his reaction to us. It helped…some. I’m trying to point out the times that he does a good job, but I may try a reward system (as soon as the getting dressed promptly chart is complete!)

  4. Yvette says

    I am still pregnant with my first but this is a great idea. I will for sure be doing this! thanks for the tip.