Cotton Ball Reward System

Simplest Reward System Ever for Kids Positive Behaviour

Let me put my thoughts in the open…

I am not a fan of rewarding kids’  E-V-E-R-Y  S-I-N-G-L-E  GOOD BEHAVIOUR

Aside from the fact that it is going to be COSTLY…obviously with money, time, and attention but it could unwittingly cost our child’s positive growth over time.

I find it a bit empty when we have to voice overstated words, like “Good job” and “Well done”, to every single good deed over and over again without much sincerity.

Honestly, it bothers me every time I find myself in that trap.

I also don’t root the practice of enticing kids with money or promises in order to deliver everyday task.

It’s not that I discount our kids’ actions but I just want to make sure to intentionally acknowledge them when deserved.

Responsible parenting is not straightforward.  It is a thoughtful effort. 

Unfortunately, this is one of those life skills which were not explicitly taught in the years we spent in schools. We’re expected to find our feet when we became one and operate based on the habits we learned from our own parents or other parents around us.

Like any other life’s skills, it’s a continuing work. My hubby and I are in constant works to become better responsible parents to our two lovely blessings.

We all are…I suppose.

One of those challenges of being a responsible parent is how to encourage positive behaviour at home and beyond home.  Making it as fun and exciting for our children not just to remember it today but also tomorrow for the bright future ahead of them.


Why Reward Good Behaviour?

“Reward the behaviour you want repeated…” – Larry Winget

Rewarding positive behaviour encourages for that behaviour to be recurrent until it becomes natural.  It is one of the most effective psychological approaches in promoting positive reinforcement of good human behaviour.

It also helps boost morale and confidence to our kids as well as strengthens parent-child relationships.

What’s the Easiest and Most Effective Reward System to Use?

As an add-on to our day to day affection and reward praises, there are different types of behaviour reward systems you can implement at home.

It varies from using colourful rewards chart with all the pretty stickers that our kids love to stick on as soon as they finished a task…to a simple jar (to be) filled with marbles, sticks or cotton balls as points for their good behaviour.

Just pick and try the ones which will be suitable for your home.

When my little buddy requested for a dojo system at home…I’ve turned to Google and came across this cotton ball jar reward system.

I knew right away this is the system that will perfectly fit our kids and our parenting style. It is so easy to manage and is very effective too.

As conscious parents, we want to keep the sincerity and rawness of our kids’ actions in response to positive behaviour practice at home.

To foster this intent, we decided to incorporate this easy to use and maintain cotton ball jar reward system which we fondly named Cottie Reward System, coined by our littlies who love to give nicknames to everything they enjoy.  This reward system will go hand in hand with the kids’ positive behaviour for learning Home Dojo Tool.

Our kids have both filled their cottie (my kids term for their cotton ball points) jars so many times already and have eagerly claimed their rewards.

It’s been 2 years since we implemented this dojo and cottie systems at home.

I must say, the kids have been very supportive of this positive behaviour tools which helped our lives, as parents, a whole lot easier!

However, as kids grow older it is vital to re-evaluate what behavioural reward system will work.

For now, this system is serving us the purpose.

How Does the Cottie Reward System Work?

Kids will ONLY earn cottie for their special (potentially unexpected) and good will actions. These are special actions related to their Home Dojo tasks or any other good behaviours as per their own accord.

Rewards will only be given when they fill their jars according to cottie points they wish to claim – 20 points, 25 points, and 30 points.  The higher the points, the better the reward for them.

The rewarded kid will draw from the cottie rewards jar depending on the points he/she wishes to claim. The rewards are colour coded for ease of reference.

Positive Behaviour Rewards
Cottie Rewards

What Rewards to Give?

As for the rewards, we tried not to involve as much physical money as we can but instead EXPERIENCE…I personally believe in rewarding oneself with experiences rather than material things.

No one can take it away, it stays with you.

I worked with my little buddy and little missy to define the rewards they are happy to work for.  This took a couple of alterations over time based from their preferences.   

I was actually surprised by some of the rewards they came up with! Very unexpected.

20 points25 points30 points
Playday with Mummy$20.00 Toy/book CouponNo Chore Day!
Playday with Daddy$20.00 to your savingsParent Yes Day!
Family No-Screen Playdatecottie points + 20C- points worth reward10 cottie points + 20C- points worth reward
Family Screen Game Day  
Family movie day  
Sushi treat  
Extra 1 hour of screen time  
$10 toy/book coupon  

At first, the agreed mechanics was to draw the reward lots from the jar. However, over time they grew fondness on specific rewards over the rest of the prizes they could claim.   

As a result, we have given them the liberty to choose the points and the awards they want to earn.  

Besides, they worked hard for it!

Guess what those are so far?

“No Chore Day” comes on the top of the list and Book Coupons as second.

Discuss the rewards with your kids and list down the things that will encourage them to do positive behaviours.

Rewards System
Cottie Rewards System (Earlier version)

How to Make a Cottie Reward Jar?

Setting up a Cottie Reward Jar is very easy and costs you nothing as the materials are most likely available in your home.

Remember this: It’s not about the resources, it’s about the resourcefulness.

Recycled glass jars/ bottles

Pick a size of a jar that is just right for this purpose. 

Feel free to use plastic jars as you see fit.

I used the sundried tomato jar from Coles.

Collect as much jars as you need. I used 3 jars.

Coloured papers  Artwork papers or Post it or Sticky Notes
Printer/ Ballpen/ TexterYou can opt to print the rewards on paper or write it yourself
Cotton balls
Jar labelsOptional: See DIY label

1. Label the jars.

You can use a label maker or a texter.

For a much more fun approach, let the kids give nicknames to their hardworking cottie jars and let them design it.

Jeff the Jar for little buddy and Jobie for little missy.  And Cottie Rewards as the home for their incentives.

2. Write down the rewards on post it or sticky notes.

If you don’t have a printer at home, you can also write down the rewards on a small pieces of paper according to the varying cottie points which the kids agree to earn.

If you wish to go this way, make sure to colour-code them for ease of reference.

Otherwise, you can just make use of a single-coloured paper or note.

3. Locate the jars in a place where visible enough to see but hard enough to reach by the kids.

In the earlier months, I put the jars on top of our fridge, so kids can see how much their jars are getting filled.  But, later on we moved it to a much safer place in the house but easy enough to access.  We never had issue with our kids accessing them and filling their jars without our consent.  

See what will work for you and your kids.

The jars are now ready for action! 

4. Fill the jars with cotton balls as soon as good actions are on the roll! 

If you find other fun materials to use than cotton balls, feel free to alter.  Just bear in mind that little ones will be using them so just be mindful about their safety implications (e.g. choking hazards, etc).

My kids love recounting their cotties every time they earn a new one to make sure they are not that far from claiming a new reward.

Cotton Ball Rewards System
Cotton Ball Reward Jars


It is imperative to note that any system or tool you apply with your children will only be successful if implemented consistently.

The onus is on us, parents, to be more attentive of our kids’ day to day actions and to be thoughtful in acknowledging them.

Rewarding kids’ good behaviour is a great and fun approach to communicate what we expect from them as good individuals.

For best results, reward the good behaviour immediately after the action and be specific in acknowledging your kids’ actions and efforts.

Positive behaviour rewards if executed properly, along with the positive behaviour for learning system, will be an effective way to train our kids to become a happy and resilient human being.

Ann of Hometiculous

I am a busy mummy of 2 and a wifey to one. I am very careful when it comes to the needs of my family and home. I am particularly lazy to look for things and thoroughly crazy to do everything that’s why I am thankful for organizing. I am a certified meticulous when it comes to anything that involves effort, time, and money at home and beyond our home. In my spare time (if I am lucky), I engrossed myself reading, experimenting in the kitchen, exploring my tiny little garden, learning and saving from DIYs.

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