“Parent your child’s heart, before their behavior” is one of the best pieces of parenting advice I’ve ever received. The sentiment behind it is that our hearts are really the driving force for why we do what we do. For instance, if one of the kids comes home from school and has a meltdown because she can’t find her favorite soccer socks for practice, chances are the root of the problem isn’t the socks… unless they’re two or three. And then it’s probably just the socks. Anyways, maybe not the best example, but hopefully you get the idea. The problem is that while we’re helping our kids sort through their experiences and feelings, we also need them to be active and cooperative participants of the family operations throughout the day. You know, things like getting their shoes on, finishing their food and clearing their plates, doing their bedtime routine within a certain timeframe… can you tell my kids have a tendency to take their sweet time, lol? And it can be so easy to nag them about all of the above which is exhausting and you know they are gifted with selective hearing anyways soooooo we’re fighting a losing battle. What is a mom to do?
Well, I mentioned in this instagram post last week, one thing that’s been working for me is using positive statements and asking questions like, “what else do you need to do before we leave for the bus?” instead of, “I’ve reminded you three times already… BRUSH YOUR HAIR!” Ha! For a younger kid it might sound something like, “how quick can you find your shoes?” or “if you put your shoes on, can I tie them for you?”. It works wonders you guys but there is one other way that we’ve found to motivate our kids towards being sweet, helpful members of the fam bam and that is through an incentive jar.
Here’s how it works: I bought 4 rolls of these carnival tickets (love the smiley faces), one color for each of the younger kids and then set out a glass jar for them to stuff their earned tickets into. Once the jar is full they earn, as a group, a fun family activity. The child with the most tickets get’s to bring a friend along. This way they end up competing (in a friendly way) with each other but also working towards a common goal.
The kids get tickets for things like: making their beds, doing chores, being kind/inclusive/helpful, cleaning up after themselves, making it to the bus on time, getting ready for bed “on time”, getting in the car when I ask, good problem solving, showing leadership, working hard at homework or reading and any other qualities or habits we want to encourage!
They aren’t allowed to request getting a ticket for something, but if they feel like I’m slacking on giving them out then they’re allowed to bring it to my attention in a nice way. They are also allowed to give each other a ticket if they see something their sibling is doing well. So far (thankfully!) we haven’t had any cheaters or scammers.
We recently celebrated their first full jar with a trip to the fair! Our hope in the future is to all go together, but Espen wasn’t able to miss school because of track so we made other plans for him and a friend since he earned the most tickets.
Over the weekend the kids started filling the jar for a second time and are working towards a trip to a corn maze. It’s a much less expensive but time sensitive outing since they only run through October so I’m excited to be extra generous with giving out tickets!
What I love most about this incentive program is that it still works even when we aren’t able to be consistent or it just falls off our radar for a couple days — there’s no need to catch up, find allowance money or keep anything but tickets stocked. We just pick up where we left off.
Although I have been known to pack a few strips of tickets and a ziplock anytime we are gone for a night or two, LOL.
Do you guys have a reward system that works for you?
What is the best parenting advice you ever received?