Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Dimes and Lessons

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Ok, so it's no secret that we've got some issues going on with Kristopher, and by the way I do appreciate all the comments with ideas on them. I have been thinking through some and may implement a few of them. For now, I'm doing something that will hopefully build up good character traits as well as help Kristopher to want to behave.

Here's how it works...

With Christmas coming we're going to let Kristopher buy gifts for his siblings. If you know Kristopher well, you'll know that he LOVES giving things to people. A birthday present for a friend, a toy for one of the little ones, something he made for a grandparent, doesn't matter. He LOVES to give gifts. This is one part of his heart that's in the right place ;) (ok, so there's more than just that, but we'll build on the good stuff we see!). Now, he can't buy anything without money. REAL money. But he doesn't have any, he's 4.

This is where his desire to buy his siblings gifts meets our need for a routine and regimen. Call it allowance. Call it bribing. But it is working :) During the day there are certain tasks that he knows he has to do. Get dressed. Put his PJs away in the hamper or on his bed depending on if they're to be worn again. Eat breakfast- whatever we serve without making a big fuss about it. At bedtime he needs to brush his teeth, put his clothes in the hamper, and go to bed without continuously coming out.

These are some things that he's generally good at doing but often we're hitting the attitude with them. Now if he does them with a good attitude, he will have a dime added to his 'pot'. He can also earn dimes by doing small tasks like putting a new bag in the trash can this morning or pulling the clean clothes out of the dryer. In the family room he put the little guys' toys and filled up one bin. There are two, so he had a chance to earn 2 dimes. He chose to do one and that's fine. The idea is that there are some times that he is told "you need to do this now" and some times where he's offered a choice "if you want to earn a dime I could use your help picking up the babies' toys". Regardless, he needs to have a good attitude about it and do it in a timely fashion if he is going to do it.

Of course I looked down the road 3 weeks when this isn't as "fun" for him anymore and I thought... He might just say "I don't want to buy ___ a present anyway" when his attitude comes back full swing. So... this is probably not a great way to teach giving... but this is what we did this time anyway... We told Kristopher that for each person he earns the money to buy a gift for he will also be given a gift from them. (And we intend to shape him until he does indeed get something for each of them, even if it's a $1 toy each because we don't want him picking who to buy for).

Oh, and I know he doesn't completely understand money and worth and all that good stuff yet, but we explained it all as if he does. We told him that 25 dimes is $2.5o and that would buy him a "big" gift for a sibling. We are going to implement the 1:1 gift rule that my parents used for the kids when I was growing up. For gifts to family members at Christmas, we pay for half. So $2.50 will give Kristopher $5 in buying power. That's what we're aiming for with him as it would mean he has to earn 75 dimes between now and shopping day. With MANY chances per day, that shouldn't be too bad. I'll be getting him a gift card with $5 on it when he's earned enough to go shopping. He LOVES carrying around a gift card and handing it to the cashier to pay for his own purchase. Makes it so much more 'real' than shopping and just adding it to Mom's stack of groceries or whatever.

I've seen a change in him today as I've offered redirection a few times when he's acted out so far. I've offered several projects throughout the day and he's done a few of them. Mostly when he was acting up. Positive channels for an energetic boy :) I also have seen less of the attitude today, though it's still reared its ugly head several times. He still receives discipline for doing things he shouldn't, like pulling toys out of Emma's hands or peeling the decals off his bed (AGAIN...). This is not taking away the fact that he's got to learn not to do the bad behaviors. This is giving him a reason to focus on the good ones and to do so respectfully!

And as I type this Emma is taking everything out of the bin he filled and throwing it all out to the side and behind her. She'll keep Kristopher in business for sure!!!


  1. Great idea! My kids each have a penny cup. We were having a problem with them using good manners on a consistent basis. So, each time they remember they get a penny in their cup, and when they forget I take a penny away! It has worked wonders!
    By the way, we have been doing this for a loooong time, and it hasn't gotten old with them, so maybe it won't with K either! Good luck! Stay creative!

  2. Meredith,
    Don't worry so much, most of what is happening with Christopher is a normal age related issue. My 4 1/2 year old is the same, Mr. Controversy, I say red he says blue. His daycare uses the money rule, you earn $2 a day of fake money, or lose it depending on your behavior. At the end of the week if you have $10 you get to go to the treasure chest. Good luck, seems you are on the right road. Deb

  3. Meredith,
    I am doing "What I am Thankful For" on my blog for the next week if you would like to do the same, let me know

  4. My boys at 7 and 8 still respond to the chore list and getting paid their allowance each week. After a while I sometimes stop the list checking (my bad) and they lose interest. So it does work! They still don't have much concept of money except $100 is a lot and $.01 is a little :)