Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Summer before its gone

Signs of the new school year are creeping around us like the bogey man. I avert my eyes from the huge back-to-school displays at the store. But thick envelopes of registration paperwork are piling up in my mailbox, and I was lured in by Old Navy's school uniform sale. And I have to confess, now that I've thought about it, the idea of a few less kids around here has a certain appeal.

Before summer slips away entirely, here are a few of the summer systems we've been using:

I was trying to think of a way to fund the kids' inevitable desires for things like bounce house passes, movie tickets, pizza, and new wii games. So we made flyers inviting all neighborhood kids to a weekly playgroup. We charge $2 per kid. My kids plan the activities, supervise the kids, and clean up afterwards. Overall, it's been very fun. The kids have done a good job making sure the playgroup is fun for everyone and balancing structured activities with free time. They used their proceeds from the first half of the summer to buy a new car DVD player for our trip.

Random rewards
I'm always telling myself I need to give fewer negative consequences and more positive reinforcement. So I sometimes set up a system wherein behavior x earns reward y. And then I find the mandatory rewards annoying and counterproductive. Finally I came up with this system of random  rewards, which I like much better.

 On each square I've written something ranging from "thank you" to "Happy Meal for lunch." Any time I see someone do something good, I can tell them to choose a sticky to remove from the chart. But it's never linked with any specific behavior.

I stack it so that about half the time they'll just get a pat on the back ("You make our family great" or "Chuck Norris is impressed"). I also try to make the rewards strengthen my relationship with the kids, so some of them are things like "Hug Mom" or "Play wii tennis with Mom." I think the kids' all-time favorite is "Mom cleans your room."

I guess we're all still enamored with our new fridge and the water and ice in the door. The kids saunter into the kitchen for ice water about three thousand times a day. And had been using a new cup each time until I finally gave them each their assigned spot on the counter.


  1. The cup thing is genius. I did something similar but with color-coded cups. And since we dont have water in the door of our fridge I bought a water jug with a little spout thingy to sit on the counter so that they can get their own water. ...Now if only we were home to take advantage of it...

  2. You are so awesome! I love the reward method. I need to apply that cups trick to myself. I am the worst of all of us, and have tried to overcome this weakness.