Order in the Chaos--Rewards

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Public Service Announcement: The regularly scheduled Frugal Friday has been interrupted by this last installment in the "Order in the Chaos" series.

I'm looking back through this week's post, and I see my father in me. Did you notice the clever use of alliteration with the "R" in the titles? See? I am the daughter of a Baptist preacher. Anyhoo, time to wrap this all up for you. You got your rules, got your Good Habit Cards for broken rules, and you got your responsibilities. Today, alas, I give you the part that will make your children dance and sing your praises. Today, we discuss rewards. If I had a dime for every time I've told my children that disobedience brings discipline and obedience brings blessings then I'd be lying on a beach somewhere on the island I own. Today, we will discuss the blessings part of your children's obedience to complete their chores.

I have to be honest with you. We have tried to pay our children weekly in the past for their chores, and it always seemed to fall apart. And, I was the reason why. When that Saturday pay day came around, I just wouldn't have the right amount of cash to pay each child. So, I'd promise to pay them later, only I never would. Then, you guessed it--the kids' motivation would tank and the whole system would fall apart. So, yet another reason I love this Family Rules system--because it offers the perfect solution. The reward system involves plastic coins that fall into two categories. You will have family coins and kid coins.

I went to P.arty C.ity and bought plastic Mardi Gras coins. Gold coins are family coins. Family coins are rewarded for random acts of kindness and obedience. Love that you can quietly reward them when you catch them being "good." Oh--but one rule you might need to clearly state--if your child asks for the family coin for obedience than it negates it. You can't ask for it. Family coins are also awarded for EACH chore that is completed on the chart. Three family coins equal a kid coin. And, we determined that each kid coin would have a $1 value. So, yes, each chore is roughly worth $.033. Each child has their own color kid coin so these cannot be confused for a sibling's coins.

Our kids have little plastic boxes from the dollar store that they keep their coins in. When we had our family meeting about our rules, we also talked about rewards. So, the children were each allowed to come up with a list of rewards for which they would cash in their kids coins. Because we determined that we wanted each kid coin to have a $1 value, it kept our reward system simple. For a trip for ice cream, it's 3 kids coins. For a trip to the movies, it's 10 kid coins, and so forth. You can determine your own value system with your reward system--this dollar amount just made sense to us. Now, our kids have some BIG rewards they wanted--including a night at Great Wolf Lodge. So, we set the value for 300 kids coins, which meant the kids would have to pull their coins together to earn this within a reasonable amount of time. (Um, no--they haven't reached that goal).

Over time, here's what has happened. Our kids have completely forgotten that little reward list and they skip to the cash. They just turn in their coins for money. I'm good with that. And, over time, it has allowed us to teach some big lessons on tithing, saving, and spending. Not to mention budgeting. We REALLY wanted to encourage the idea that you set a savings goal to buy a big ticket item with your CASH. So, we made a one-time-only offer to match them dollar for dollar for money saved for a big ticket item. This allowed them to feel the thrill of victory for delayed gratification and stick to a goal. All three of my kids, by the way, saved for an iTouch.

As far as tithing, our kids turn in their coins for cash to give to the church and other ministries. And, they have learned some budgeting lessons and about wants versus needs. They have a certain budget from Mom and Dad for their school lunches. When that is up, they either turn in their coins or they pack their lunch. When we go to the movies and they want candy, that's not in my budget--but they can turn in coins. When they get the "I wants" at the cash register--you guessed it--well, turn in your coins. When they want some big new shiny toy and they don't have enough coins, they have to work to earn the coins to pay for it. I tell them often that they have unlimited earning potential if they work hard enough. But, no, I will not lend them large amounts of money till later--we don't do debt.

INTENTIONAL challenge: This fourth component of the Family Rules--the rewards--is really the hook. I like the consequence aspect of the system, but it feels great to "pay" the kids for the work they do. And, I love seeing their excitement to earn their own money. I love the smile on their face when I quietly grab a family coin and hand it to a child to thank them for being extra kind or helpful. Most of all, I love how this trains them for an important truth of following God's ways--obedience brings blessings. There you have it, my bloggy friends--the Family Rules system. I know, I know--it is complex and it's a lot to do. We honestly sat on this ourselves for weeks when we learned about it. We geared up till we were ready to DIVE in and do it. And, it took work--and still does. But, it really does bring peace and calm when we consistently are working the program. And, although in the beginning, we were constantly going back to double check the details, it's become more second nature to us now. I'd love to hear how these ideas work for you! Give it a try! Life is messy and chaotic--but there are some ways to bring some order to it all.

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