Michelle at Scribbit describes how her family uses the ever-popular Star Chart. I love how the rewards take into account each child's particular interests and values.
In an effort to reward our children's good behavior but not promote materialism and multiply the already overwhelming pile of useless toys my children accumulate I came up an alternative reward system I call "Star Charts."
I print out a table for each child, about five or six columns across and a dozen rows down, on the computer with places for the kids to place star stickers in each empty box. Each time I catch the child doing something good without being asked or doing something they dislike without complaint they get one or two stars, filling in the boxes. In the far right column I write the reward that each gets for completing three or four rows of stars.
So far, nothing remarkable but instead of giving physical rewards like candy, toys, etc. for filling in their stars I give less tangible rewards that have come to be much more popular–and it varies according to what each child likes.
Examples include: ordering your favorite meal for dinner, getting to stay up an extra hour, going on a bike ride to a destination of your choice, going on a picnic, etc. The final "prize" for filling in the entire chart is a date night with just Mom and Dad. Dinner, a movie, Discovery Zone, a bookstore trip, rollerblading at the park, ice cream and a hike, whatever they want.
The one-on-one time has been invaluable and the kids enjoy the power of choosing their own date. It's proved to be excellent incentive for good behavior.