Now that our children are a little older, the most successful parenting tool has been a bead reward system.
It started off with a complex chart of what they needed to do in the morning and after school. Things like brushing their teeth, getting dressed, putting their swim clothes in front of the washer, etc. They could earn bonus beads for being kind and considerate of each other and others. Beads were taken away if they did not obey the first time (with a warning that they would lose beads) The reward for filling their jars was either money ($7) or a play date. They took to it!
Why $7? I didn't feel like doling out $20/week. And when I said $7, they were really excited! Turns out, it takes about a month to fill their jars. We tend to give them about $10 each.
To keep it fresh, the chart evolves. Whereas they were given beads for basic things they did, if they did not do them, beads were taken away. No swim clothes by the washer? Lose 2 beads. Motor Mouth goes to the pool 4x/wk so that can add up!
For awhile, the kids kept wetting their bed. It was insane. I decided to reward them for dry nights. Five beads for waking up dry. Wasn't sure this was good for their psyche but it worked. Dry mornings! Before the new year, we said they would stop getting beads for this as of New Year's Day.
We now give Mini Me 3 beads for waking up. BUT, if she cries for no reason, she loses 2 beads each cry. Crying has reduced.
Motor Mouth gets beads for getting all of his spelling and vocab words and memory verse right.
Both kids get extra beads for helping or being considerate of others. If we get a good report from the sitter, they are respectful to grow ups, behave in public, etc. they get bonus beads.
Conversely, if they are being an absolute putz, they get beads taken away. We give warnings and often it is enough to elicit the desired response. The beads removed must match the infraction.
We realize this is a temporary system. But until the kids figure beads with the hope of a play date or cash is lame, we are relishing the system.
Details on the Beads:
I first wanted to do marbles. I went online to order some but decided to go with the beads instead when I walked in to Pier 1 and found these lovely gems. I was able to pick some that matched Widney Loft that the children would like. The glasses were on sale as well. About 8 oz glasses. The circles are Mini Me's and the stripes are Motor Mouths. Kids have to fill their glasses to get a reward.
When the kids do well, they get the beads in their glass. When they don't do well, they lose a bead to the jar.