I’ve been at this parenting thing for nearly 11 years now. And you know what? I am still trying to figure it out! We’ve tried many things with our kids to help them pick up toys, not fight and just listen to us. We tried the ticket reward system (which worked while they were a bit younger). We even used toy jail for them. We were successful in implementing these tactics, but as our children are getting older, it means that my husband and I have to stay ahead of the curve.
With summer vacation starting here very soon, it means 3 kids will be home. They will fight. They will leave messes. They will not listen to me. After all, they are kids – right? Well, yes they are kids, but we are doing something new with them this summer to try to keep the fighting, bickering, sassing, messes, etc from taking over. We are instilling the coin method of discipline method.
The idea is similar to what we’ve used with our kids when traveling on vacation. Before we leave in our van, we hand them a roll of quarters (which gives them $10 to spend on anything they want). Every time they fight, ask if it is much longer, etc, they owe us a quarter. When they see that roll getting smaller and know they have less to spend, they really think long and hard before they ask the question or fight. It really made for a pleasant trip (and was SO worth the $30 we spent for our sanity).
Of course, since we have 12 weeks of summer, I am not giving each of them $10 a week. Instead, we are going to use rolls of dimes. Each time that they have to be reminded to pick up the cheese stick wrapper, or put their Nintendo away or to stop fighting, they will owe me a dime. At the end of each week, I will take them to the Dollar Store (their favorite place to shop) and they can spend what is left over. They remember the fun they had with the quarters from vacation so this is motivation in the same manner to behave during the summer.
The entire idea is to make them THINK before they act. This will help them remember that I need to be nice to my sister or I need to pick up my toys. It also teaches them accountability for their actions. They know that if they do the wrong thing they will lose money. The same way in life – if you do the wrong thing you may have consequences for your actions. This is NOT about the money. This is about giving it thought before you do something.
Some of you may feel that this is “bribing” your kids. I do not. I look at it this way — do you WORK for free? No, you are not being bribed to show up and do what you are asked — but isn’t your paycheck your motivation in doing so? The same concept can be used for our kids. Sure, they know that they are suppose to do the right thing, but if we can sometimes dangle that motivator (call it a carrot if you will) in front of them, we can often get a better behavior out of them.
This will certainly NOT replace their responsibility charts. If anything, the chores we choose may take them longer, as they have more time to give back since they no longer have homework and other responsibilities. My kids know what is expected of them, but after spending so much time around one another, they tend to get a little out of sorts. This is mom’s way of helping them think before they speak.
My kid are really good kids (I am a lucky woman), but again, after too much time together, they tend to fight more (as siblings do) and this just might help mom keep her sanity this summer. I figure that giving them dimes is better than me losing my own temper with them. It is a complete win-win situation.