Thursday, October 11, 2012

Kid friendly motivation!

We have tried magnet chore systems, sticker sheets, alongside a variety of other tactics to encourage and teach our daughter manners, stewardship, and being on your best behavior.  With umpteen methods of failure, I set out to positively motivate my daughter and while doing so teach her some basics in life lessons of money.  I wanted it to be fun, tangible, and usuable and also re-usable, cutting down on waste and trash. After all what exactly do you do with those sticker sheets?!?!      

Like most people these days, I don't carry cash, and like most parents can attest too, even if you have cash, kids + cash = lost moolah FOR SURE!  I will say that L is really good about finding coins and they do usually make it to her piggy bank when we arrive back home, but still. Not taking that chance!

My precious and precocious L started Kindergarten this year.  We wanted to encourage her to try hard in learning and to make good and respectful choices behaviorally as well. We have noticed that positive reinforcement seems to work better. So I sat out on a mission of creating something tangible that would excite her to do her best, to help out, and to learn fundamentals of money management.

I went to a craft store bought an unfinished box and some wooden discs and stars, added a bit of paint and decoupage and voila, our new rewards system!  It is set up so that 3 "coins" equals $1. So basically she can earn up to $5 a week.  The stars are accumulated for special treats like a trip to Starbucks, frozen yogurt, etc and it takes 5 stars to earn a special treat.

She can earn up to 3 coins a weekday for various things, school attitude, attitude at home, doing her age appropriate chores and one star each day if she has earned her max coins and has went above and beyond to be helpful and use manners.  She can also earn a star for having good sportsmanship and for listening to her soccer coach on Saturdays. Likewise she can have coins taken away for breaking house rules, poor behavior or attitude.  It looks like a death march to her rewards box when she owes us a coin for bad choices!

It is great when we end up in the check out line and the little candies and gum are calling out her name.  Those impulse marketing people are BRILLIANT!  I use to cave every once in awhile, but now she has to choose to 'pay' me for the items with her coins or to pass on it.  I have noticed a HUGE decrease in begging for those impulse items now that she knows it comes with a cost!  I never would have thought a 5 year old would be so stingy with wooden coins! HA!

If we run out of coins we keep and I.O.U. ledger that we along with L, make stacks of coins into 3's and each stack equals one tally mark, representing $1 each.  It is teaching her sorting, counting, recording, and other valuable math and organizational skills.  We hope that when she is a bit older we can further go into detail of money management by promoting the 3's rule. Separating money into 3 uses; spend, save, donate and teach her the importance of each.

I dabbled with the idea of it not being money, I have always had a despise for the term "allowance" like it is something owed not earned (why this is called the rewards box).  I know that in life we are not always rewarded or acknowledged for doing the right thing, but I feel you should be and so we chose this system over a traditional allowance.  Yes, good behavior should be expected, but in the end I wanted to  reward good choices.

I hope that our family system has inspired you to think outside of the box to reach something tangible that will promote bonding, behavior, and learning in the process!  It doesn't have to be money related and I would love to hear your families positive motivators!


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