50 Inexpensive Ideas to Reward Children

There are times when a child really deserves a reward for a job well-done. It might be your toddler's first potty-training success, your daughter's first honor roll report card or your son's first brave attempt at riding a bike. Whatever the accomplishment may be, it's important to let your child know that you've noticed and think it's worth celebrating.

It's also just as important to choose an appropriate reward. Food and toys may earn rave reviews from your child, but these are far from the most healthy or economical of rewards. Instead, consider rewarding your child with a gift of your time. Believe it or not, there are few things that your child appreciates more than spending time with Mom or Dad, and this doesn't have to cost a dime.

Here are 50 free and easy ways to reward your child with the gift of time.

  1. Teach your child how to bake one of her favorite treats.

  2. Raid the sock drawer and make sock puppets.

  3. Set up an obstacle course.

  4. Grab last year's Halloween costume and play dress-up.

  5. Fly a kite in the backyard.

  6. Pick out some movies at the library.

  7. Let your child stay up late.

  8. Go for a walk together.

  9. Plant a garden.

  10. Teach your child a new craft.

  11. Use your empty food boxes to turn your living room into a grocery store.

  12. Convert an old box into a play fort.

  13. Get out the fancy dishes and have a tea party.

  14. Paint with pudding.

  15. Turn on the radio and dance.

  16. Have a picnic in the living room.

  17. Camp out in the back yard.

  18. Play a board game together.

  19. Go star-gazing.

  20. Set up a scavenger hunt.

  21. Visit the airport and watch the planes take off and land.

  22. Check out a local museum.

  23. Play a computer game together.

  24. Read your child's favorite story.

  25. Pull out some scrap fabric and make clothes for your child's favorite stuffed animal or doll.

  26. Design your own paper dolls.

  27. Pick up a book on origami and teach your child how to make a paper crane.

  28. Go outside and jump rope.

  29. Make a bunch of paper airplanes and fly them outdoors.

  30. Download some coloring pages off the Internet and color.

  31. Make potato prints.

  32. Fill several disposable cups with juice and make popsicles.

  33. Help your child write and illustrate a book.

  34. Work a puzzle together.

  35. Make a bird feeder to hang outdoors.

  36. Give your child a new hairdo.

  37. Sing a song together.

  38. Tell your child a story about the family.

  39. Mix up a batch of modeling dough and play.

  40. Play a game of indoor hide-and-seek.

  41. Make a paper papier mache mask.

  42. String a macaroni necklace.

  43. Grab some chalk and make a driveway mural.

  44. Have a pillow fight.

  45. Pitch a tent in the living room.

  46. Decorate your child's bike and then hold a parade.

  47. Get out the video camera and make a movie starring your child.

  48. Round up some musical instruments, or make your own, then play marching band.

  49. Head to the park for an afternoon of play.

  50. Give your child a hug and kiss and tell her that she makes you proud.

Reward your child with some quality time, and you'll be rewarding yourself in the process.

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