The alternative reward chart - 5 years+

May 08, 2017
piggy bank

My daughter is 7 and quite quickly going on 14.

The other day at the kitchen table I sternly reminded her of her age and that some attitudes are not acceptable. She looked at me with a glazed expression and followed with that 'Yeah, but..'

{Yeah but {grit teeth hard} nothing!!} I thought, while saying as calmly and as sweetly as Snow White baking cherry pie "Er, no backchatting, thank you."

You see, once upon a time, way back in the land of Toddlerhood and Young Childville, I was Queen, and my husband was King! What we said went, and any acts of treason or disregard and the reliable dungeon of Time Out, situated by the cold, drafty door, would be waiting. Mwahaha! Well. I can tell you that the dragon of Growing Up and dare I whisper the prelude of the hormonal teenager has well and truly arrived. Said King and Queen need a new plan because the Time Out dungeon is toast!

The trouble is there is nothing that our 7 year places value on, time out is just an excuse to plait her hair and I we just don't have the energy to shout.

Feeling weary and worn from the fire breathing dragon that is spitting disrespect everywhere we concocted a plan. Raise the taxes!!

We introduced a different approach to the reward chart, EARN IT, FINE IT!

Let me explain,

1. Each job has the same value (and we give out 10p coins only).

Within 5 minutes of inspecting the list below, the 7-year-old stated "WHY is everything worth 10p! Come on, practising the piano for 15 minutes is the same money as making my bed, pfft!"

Yep, we (King and I) had already anticipated this remark. Obviously, the small children would most likely choose the job with the highest value, a value which we had placed. We simplified the decision-making process.

Note: what the children are yet to fully comprehend (if they ever will) is that by completing all the easy jobs first, if fined, they are left with what they consider to be harder tasks should they want to reclaim their money.
Parent 1 / Child 0

2. The feeling of being fined after earning it has had an impact, so much more than a stint in the Time Out dungeon.

At dinner, a few hours after the chart had been introduced, the 7-year-old burst into cross tears
"This stupid chart is SO unfair; it's stupid. I'm not doing it; I'm quitting!".
I replied quite calmly, "Ok, well that's your choice, maybe sleep on it because just so you know, you will still be expected to help out, as before {the chart was introduced} but the difference is your sister will earn 10p for jobs and you won't."
"Well, why, how is that fair. If I earned it, I should keep it."
"Yes but if you lie,  are rude, eat with your fingers instead of a knife and fork, then that's not fair for us. We tell you these things because we want you to grow up with manners and respect, but you don't listen."
"Well, I'm listening now."
"But you're not, you're still being rude. Listen, it's easy, by the end of the week you could have £3.50, which could buy you a magazine, you could save it for a CD.  All you need to do are simple jobs and have manners. You choose how much you earn."
Parent 1 / Child 0

The alternative reward chart - 5 years+

There are opportunities to earn money for good behaviour, behaviour that is offered without the desire of reward. Showing kindness, thoughtfulness, respect for others. And it's a great tool to put a stop to low-level bad behaviours such as hair chewing or teeth gritting.  It has also taught us, as parents where we are lacking in support for unwanted behaviours. For example, I realised that the 7-year-old is a sneaky little liar sometimes...

...home from school, the 5-year-old got on with her jobs (she has her version) cashing in on her rewards. The 7-year-old watched TV. "Ah well done Em's your jobs are done for they day," I say cheerfully but loud enough for the 7-year-old to hear. 

"What? She has done all of her jobs already?" she said with a lick of smoke curling from her nostrils, tail thumping lightly on the ground.  "Yep, are you going to earn some money too?"

"Yes, what can I do that's easy, hang my school clothes up..." and off she went upstairs. Time had passed, and I called up "What are you doing?" "Reading my book," she replied.

Good, I thought (see item 3 on the chart). Moments later, out of her uniform, she came downstairs and boldly ticked two boxes. "Done," she said sweetly. 

Fully believing her, I go upstairs to get her book to test her on the 3 pages she had just read. I notice her uniform isn't in its usual spot crumpled on the floor. Proudly thinking {we've turned a corner} I open the wardrobe door and my pride bubble pops. There are her clothes screwed up at the bottom of her wardrobe. I call her up and question her "Oh,  I was going to do it, but I ticked my chart first". 
I gave her the benefit of the doubt but reminded her that lying was a 20p fine. She looked guilty. "Where is your book?" I asked. "Well, I don't know! It was here!".
"Are you sure? Your book can't just disappear like that?" I lift the pillow "Or, are you lying?". 
"I'm lying," she said, head bowed "I didn't read my book, I couldn't find it, I pretended."

WTF?! The 7-year-old has spun me two lies and tried to cheat me out of money. 

So, without explanation, without being cross, I said "You owe me 40p, two lies. Unfortunately for you, you didn't make money yesterday so now you have to do 4 jobs for free, what a pity."

Parent 1 / Child 0

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