Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Accentuate the positive

Jack has continued to be a bit of a wildebeest around the house this summer.

I've mentioned here before that he has really taken a liking to hitting and kicking me and screeching so damn loud that it terrifies the baby.

I was starting to feel like ALL WE WERE DOING ALL DAY EVERY DAY was managing Jack's behavior and quite frankly I've had enough of that.

So when I was reading blogs and I stumbled on an idea for "mom bucks" I got right to work. (My apologies for having no clue where I saw the idea.)
I cut out a bunch of mom bucks from pink cardstock and Dad dollars from green and blue cardstock.

Then I sat down and made a reward chart to go with them.

The first thing the next morning I put the buck plan into action.

Anytime I catch Jack being "good", aka exhibiting desired behavior I give him a mom buck. When he has enough of them he can cash them in for rewards.

So far it seems to be working pretty well. He hasn't magically become an angel or anything, but it has most certainly slowed down the amount of time I have to spend saying NO NO NO NO NO NO NO.

A few thoughts on a behavior system like this:
* I am pretty stingy with the bucks. I want to keep him guessing about when and where he will get them. BUT I can't be too stingy, see below.
* I keep them in my pockets so I can give them to him no matter where we are.
* I set up the rewards and the point values to be fairly low because I would really like to get him to earn/use one reward per week of summer vacation. I had to explain that part to him though, and encourage him to spend them, because Jack tends to be very thrifty with "money" and he was trying to save them until he had a huge amount of them. (This does mean loosely keeping track of how many he has to ensure that he can cash in at least once a week.)
* I do not take them away for "bad" behavior.
* I give them out for a huge variety of reasons from eating the crust of bread without being asked to asking nicely to go to the park to playing quietly with a toy to not complaining about dinner.
* As part of the "plan" I am purposefully ignoring plenty of other behavior "transgressions". Picking my battles, if you will, and hoping that he becomes self motivated.
* I don't tell him if he does so and so he will earn one. I give them to him quietly after he has done something that I think is worthy of one and I make a point of telling him HOW he has earned it by saying "Thank you for eating your bread crusts."
* You can see on the chart that I assigned a somewhat random monetary value to them. For us I made each Mom and Dad buck have a one dollar denomination and the cash out value is 50 cents. You could easily make bucks with different denominations for bigger rewards, but I need simplicity.
Last week Jack chose backyard camping for his reward and tomorrow he is cashing in on his first sleepover and cousin Liam is coming to stay! We are all very excited about our new Mom Buck and Dad Dollar plan. :-)


  1. Anonymous7:41 PM

    Boy...this parenting thing...we all live and learn. I like the reward idea. I, too, have learned to ignore some small stuff.I believe that people, kids included, are inherently selfish and inherently good. So, we just have to appeal to their sweeter nature. Congrats to you for creativity!

  2. andrea11:20 PM

    We do a version of this at my school. Another reward item you could consider adding to the list is the ability to throw a tantrum for $5. I work with a few kids who did that a lot, but when we started charging them for having to listen to their meltdown, they stopped having them as frequently. :-)

  3. Great idea! I like that you're rewarding bucks but not taking them away and focusing on the positive things he does. Let us know how it works--I'm filing this one away for future use!

  4. Great ideas. Thought about how this might work with older kids using real money, then realized how it wouldn't work when they would pit each other against one another, through each other under the bus, try to pin something on the other one to get a buck? Yeah I am definetly going to have to get back with you on this one. Love to see Jack smiling...smiles...Renee

  5. Sounds great! I am just waiting for Jack to create some Jack coupons to save himself some money on the rewards! LOL!

    In the meantime, how is the kitchen coming?

  6. My grandparents did this for me as a kid. It worked pretty well. Trolls were the fad of the time, and most of my rewards were trolls. I still have them. For every holiday, little ones, big ones, Treasure Trolls, Troll Kidz, Norfin, Russ, and the list goes on and on! Kudos to you! Jack reminds me so much of me growing up that it's uncanny! Redheads, I swear! (even though I grew up hair didn't become red until my twenties....go figure!)


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