Through the years of having children so far, my husband and I created a huge problem when it comes to rewarding good behavior. This all started when my daughter would throw the biggest tantrums that turned in to all out rage attacks when she was younger. To survive an outing, we bribed her with buying her something. This seemed to work. When her brother came along, we couldn’t use that method with her and not with him so he was used to “getting something” almost all the time just for being good when he should be. This has created a huge problem and I have now stopped it.
The problem was each and every time the kids did anything they were asked or behaved correctly anywhere, they expected a toy or candy or something. I couldn’t take them in to any store without them thinking they were “getting something”. Obviously this was expensive, not healthy, and our house is overrun with toys that are played with for a week and then tossed aside. They have no concept of money or how to save up for things or how to want for something for a while before you finally get it because it was truly earned and not just used as a quick reward for acting right.
I began to correct this by telling the kids that we were not purchasing any toys or candy or anything when we went in to a store except what was necessary. Secondly, I am not using “stuff” as rewards for anything at the moment. An example of what I am using is with the Accelerated Reader points that the kids earn by reading books for school and taking little test on the story. This earns them points. At the beginning of the school year, we set a goal for each child of getting to 100 points. For each 10 point mark, they get to pick a reward such as extra special time with Mom or Dad, us playing their favorite game, or me preparing their favorite meal for breakfast or dinner. This is actually working out well when it comes to school behavior and Accelerated Reader points earned. They can also now earn money by completing chores and they can spend that money how they wish within reason. This is teaching them more about how much things cost and about saving up for things they really want versus just stuff that is a passing infatuation.
The struggle I’m still having is when one child gets to do something the other isn’t going to be able to do. For example, this morning the grandparents took my daughter to eat breakfast with some out-of-town family. I wasn’t going because of the expense and because I didn’t like the place they were eating. I also knew that after spending an hour at the soccer field, my son wasn’t going to sit at a restaurant for a long meal of visiting. He was very unhappy about being left out and I needed to get to Target for cat food since the puppy got in to the cat food and ate it all, leaving the cats hungry overnight. I decided to get him a few Hot Wheels cars which are inexpensive for him not getting upset over being left out of going to a meal with the extended family. I know, it was completely wrong and I’m really working on stopping that behavior for all of us, but it’s not an easy habit to break. However, at least we are on our way for some areas. I’m determined over the next few weeks to completely cut out using any type of reward in the house that involves purchasing anything or foods that are unhealthy.