Sunday, June 26, 2011

Marble Motivation

A few weeks ago we were invited to a cookout with some friends who also have children.  While the dads entertained the children with armpit farts and water guns, the mommies started discussing helpful child-rearing ideas. 

Idea #1 was suggested by a mom to three girls who are similar in age to my three boys.  Her suggestion was that you mark a dot with a Sharpie on the tag inside their clothes.  The oldest gets one dot, the middle child gets two dots, and the youngest gets three dots.  When clothes are handed down from the oldest to the middle child, you simply add a dot.  When you’re doing laundry, you can quickly look at the tag and know which clothes belong to which child.  Brilliant!  Why didn’t I think of that?

I suggested Idea #2, and here’s where it gets tricky.  There was some “discussion” among the moms regarding the validity of Idea #2.

I read in Disney’s FamilyFun Magazine about a family that used a Marble Jar to motivate their children to help out around the house.  In “Don’t Lose Your Marbles,” author Melissa O’Brian discusses how she implemented a system in which her kids are rewarded with a certain number of marbles based on the task they complete. 

I sat down and modified her system to work with our family:

1 marble
2 marbles
3 marbles
Take out trash/recycling
No timeouts
Try new foods
Put dishes in sink
Clean out car
Bring toys in from yard
Sort laundry: lights & darks
Sweep or swiffer
Put clean clothes away
Dust surfaces
Vacuum family room
Empty dishwasher
Brush teeth
Clean up playroom
Windex windows
Stay in bed after tuck-in
Clean up basement
Clean bathroom
Get dressed by yourself
Stay on smiley/green

Feed dog

When they fill their marble jars, they get $10 to spend however they choose.  The added bonus to this, of course, is that they almost always choose to go to Target to spend their money.  There's a Starbucks there.  Aces!  (Perhaps I've mentioned this before.)

I explained the system to my girlfriends at dinner.  One of them said she thought it was a great idea.  She's my new BFF.  And then there was the other one.  There’s always ONE, isn’t there?

“You’re a MUCH nicer mom than I am.  I expect them to do those things anyway.”

I think that was a DIG; the insinuation being that her children are intrinsically motivated to contribute to the successful functioning of their family unit, while mine will only work for marbles.  She continued by talking about how her girls make their beds every morning and put their own clothes away in their drawers and eat vegetables and whatnot. 

Good.  For.  You.

The marble system works for us.  When I say that the garbage needs to go out, the boys (sometimes . . . if there’s nothing good on tv . . . ) come running into the kitchen to take it out.  They help move clothes from the washer to the dryer.  They help me Swiffer the kitchen floor.  It’s not perfect, but that’s not the point.  They’re helping out around the house, and I see no reason why they shouldn’t be rewarded for good behavior.  We don’t give them some arbitrary weekly allowance; they help because we’re a family and we all contribute.

I realize this system might not work for everyone, but it’s what works in our family.  I’m not one for making passive-aggressive comments that sound like a compliment but are really an indication that I’m SO MUCH BETTER at this parenting thing than my contemporaries.  Guess what?  My kids eat McDonald’s . . . sometimes several times a week if I’m desperate.  Large’s t-shirt drawer looks like someone opened it, threw a live grenade in, and then closed it again.  And raw vegetables are certainly not their snack of choice. 

HOWEVER, do her children unload the dishwasher out of the goodness of their little 6-year-old hearts?  I tend to think not.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Be nice, kids.