In an attempt to get the kids to help out a little more around the house I recently discovered a great way to incentivise the kids using buttons and magazines which I have named ‘The Button Method’.

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The Incentive

I don’t know about you, but my kids are absolutely obsessed with magazines. The favourite ones being those that come with ‘freebies’. My bugbear is that they are not really freebies, are they? These ‘freebies’ are included in the price of an 8-page wafer thin magazine with little content bar a short story and a maze. As you can see I loathe them but the kids ABSOLUTELY love them so it seems like the perfect incentive.

The idea

I’d just like to state that this idea is not mine. A friend came up with it and I have ruthlessly (and gratefully) stolen it from her. The idea is :

Each time your child does something helpful around the house, such as, make their bed, put their breakfast stuff away, tidy up etc. they earn a pebble. Once they have collected 25 pebbles they are rewarded with a magazine of their choice.

And that’s it. Very simple indeed. But is it effective? Read on…

Putting the idea into action

We substituted pebbles for buttons as I thought they could serve a dual purpose and be handy for craft projects. But mainly because on my search for pebbles at the local garden centre I could only find HUGE bags of the things which would have been perfect for a driveway but not my little reward incentive.

The girls were on board with the idea right away. Admittedly, I wasn’t sure what they were most excited about, the buttons or the magazine but it was most definitely a positive reaction. We put the buttons in a clear jar and found two ramekin dishes (actually some old Gu Pudding pots) and wrote their names on them.

The button method - a fun way to incentivise kids to help around the house

They volunteered almost immediately so they helped me unload the dishwasher and they earned a button each. To start with they weren’t sure what would be helpful so I made a few suggestions to get them on their way and I haven’t looked back since.

We have been doing it for four weeks now and so far, so good. The girls are definitely helping out a lot more around the house which is making mornings less stressful as breakfast time has become a real team effort. The girls will get the breakfast stuff out whilst I am doing the washing up from the night before (I get soo tired in the evenings!) and then we all have breakfast together.

They ask on a regular basis if there is anything they can do to help which is music to my ears, even if I know if it is just to earn a button. I like that even earning the button is an event in itself as they get to choose their favourite.

The button method - a fun way to incentivise kids to help around the house

My eldest has earned her first magazine and is starting her ‘magazine’ pot again from scratch. My youngest has 19 buttons so she still has a way to go. I tend to be a bit more generous with my youngest so she doesn’t feel de-incentivised but it does mean I occasionally end up giving her button for silly things, such as, picking up a fork that she has just thrown on the floor. I think four years old is possibly too young for this kind of incentive but it’s working really well with my six-year-old.


One benefit that I didn’t expect is that I am spending more quality time with the girls. Normally, whilst I am doing chores, the kids are off playing (or watching TV) but when they spend 5 minutes helping me out with a small chore we have a little chat about life, school and friends which is so lovely.

Additionally, whilst it is clearly helpful for me, the other benefit is that giving kids chores teaches them self reliance and responsibility.

Another idea from Pebble Girl

My friend (Pebble Girl) had another great idea that encourages them to ‘save’. Each time they earn a pebble they can choose whether it goes in the ‘magazine‘ pot or the ‘savings’ pot. Each pebble in the savings pot accrues interest of one pebble per week so that the pot increases in value the longer you leave it so they can save up for something bigger that they may want (i.e. a LOL doll for 50 pebbles etc). The only downside is that you have to remember to add the interest/pebbles each week! We haven’t done this yet as I thought I’d see how the magazine/button incentive works first.

Buttons or pebbles?

We bought buttons in bulk from Amazon. I didn’t quite realise how many I had ordered so I shared the buttons with a friend who was also keen to try it out. I clearly (and guiltily) haven’t gone for the most environmentally friendly option with my plastic buttons, but I remember as a child how much joy I found from rifling through my Mums button collection that I wanted to give the girls the same experience.

Obviously, you can use anything you want. You don’t need to spend any money on it – just whatever you have lying around the house or garden. Perhaps some beads, stones, shells, marbles etc.


A few of my Mum friends have also tried out the incentive with their children. It has even been given the name ‘The Button Method’ and it seems to have good reports from everyone so far.

It’s great to see the kids helping out more. I really enjoy that breakfast has become a real team effort rather than them waiting for me to sort everything out. There is part of me that feels conflicted that I have resorted to bribery to get them to help out even just a little bit but I am sure this change over time.

If you are keen to have the kids help out more, then try ‘The Button Method’. I’d love to hear from you about how you get on with it.