Lately we've been having a lot of problems in the discipline department. Nothing major at all, but lots of whining and refusing to cooperate on basic routine tasks that they are suddenly no longer able to do or don't know how to do. This being a few of the several excuses we've become accustomed to receiving lately. Having discovered to "mind your marbles" behavior modifier online, we decided that this would be worth a shot. Not wanting to spend $25 per kid on the official sets, we decided to make sets at home. Then we found that to purchase enough marbles to do this adequately would cost us $50-60, which is cheaper than $75 but not by much.
Well, we've also talked about providing an allowance if they accomplish their chores without whining, and had never fully established how this would work since they do not have daily chores really.
Enter the most recent brainstorm we've had. Combine them and hopefully get something that works for our kids. Money motivates them, that's about it. Food doesn't, just money. And it can be a penny or a dollar, it doesn't matter really to them either way... So there are currently three stacks of dimes on our dining room table. Each child starts with 5 dimes in the morning. This gives them an earning potential of $.50 per day or approximately $15 per month. Every time we have to correct their behavior, they must take one dime and place it back in the tub. This gives them up to five corrections per day while still being able to acquire something for the day. They cannot get into negative amounts. If they lose all five dimes, they simply get nothing for the day, we do not take money out of their coin purses. Any money left in their pile at bedtime, they get to put in their coin purses. They lose money for things like whining, refusing to obey rules, starting fights with siblings, and not completing assigned chores. They also have the ability to earn back coins (or extra coins if they don't lose any) by doing chores not assigned to them, by helping others complete their tasks (without being told), or by going out of their way to help someone else (including people outside of our household).
The results? Well, so far we are on day two of this effort. Odie is having the hardest time with it, not for a lack of understanding of the concept, but because his behavior was already very far from the ideal. B is always a fast learner. While she lost one dime in the morning, she folded towels immediately after school to earn that dime back and thus earned all five dimes yesterday. ZoKo is still having a few issues, but so far she is letting her bad moods affect her behavior for shorter periods of times, thus allowing her to keep more coins.
What does it teach them? For one, that there are direct consequences to their behavior (both good and bad), and that this can be demonstrated in more than one manner. Secondly, we are working on teaching them basic math skills. Odies has to count his dimes each night. B has to count the amount of money she is receiving each night and attempts to count how much she has total in her coin purse now. And ZoKo counts how much she has in her coin purse each night, picks a price for a toy she might want, and subtracts to figure out how much more money (and how many days at $.50 per day) it would take her to purchase said toy.
As for the money... The kids are now in charge of buying any special "just because" snacks (out of the normal routine), and purchasing their own toys, extra clothes that just simply "look cool", and anything else they don't really need and have way too much of anyway :P
Hopefully this new plan works, at least until we come up with something better. In the meantime, I'll try to keep you informed periodically on progress. Peace out :)