Wednesday, December 2, 2009

The Value of a Nickel

After being sicker than dogs over the Thanksgiving weekend (trust me, you don't want to hear about it), we're finally back to normal. It's nice to be out of the house (I hadn't left the house since Friday) and doing everyday things. I have so much to catch up on. Poor Katie's completely out of underwear and it's been a while since any vacuuming has occurred. And it's time to start getting our Christmas decorations out, since we weren't able to do that after Thanksgiving.

We were going through a phase when our kids were having accidents EVERY DAY, which was driving me up the wall. I think they just got to a point where they wanted to see just how long they could go without going to the bathroom. I was sick of cleaning up messes that shouldn't have happened and I was sick of punishing kids for accidents.
"Well, no dessert tonight!" (Great, that means I actually have to have a dessert!)

So we began giving the kids a nickel (or any coin, it doesn't matter) every time they go to the bathroom. Then, at the end of the day, anyone who is accident-free all day gets two extra nickels. After they have accumulated 20 nickels, they get to go to the dollar store and pick out anything they want, with no interference from Mom.

This has worked well for many reasons:
1. It incentivises going to the bathroom. ***Is incentivise a real word? We used it all the time at work, but I'm doubting it's veracity.***
2. It teaches responsibility. They're responsible for reminding us to give them nickels and for keeping them in a safe place. Any nickels found by parents are forfeit.
3. It's a non-food reward for being dry.
4. It helps with counting. We count our nickels A LOT. Twenty is a nice number because it means they have to make it through the teens, which is always tricky.
4. It teaches about money. They have to hand over the nickels to Mom before they can get their reward. I'd have them give it straight to the cashier, but taxes complicate the lesson. They also learn that the value of money lies in its purchasing power, not in the money itself.
5. They learn about opportunity costs. They can only choose ONE item. If they decide they want a puzzle more than the foam sword, they have to put the sword back.

Today's excursion demonstrated their two personalities perfectly. Katie spent about half an hour browsing the store and finally settled on a pair of fairy wings that match her tutu. Paul grabbed the first item he saw (a candy cane filled with M&Ms) and didn't change his mind the entire time. The M&Ms were gone by the time we got home.

Of course, Katie had to try out her fairy wings as soon as we got home. They immediatly ran to their dress-up clothes. Fortunately, Paul chose the cowboy this time. More often than not he's a very handsome Belle or Snow White.


Laura said...

LOVE this post. Now I just need to remember it in a year or two when I start training Ella. Ugh. Glad you're feeling better!

Ashley said...

I've decided that you need to write me a How-to book on raising kids. That would be awesome.
I love how Katie poses for her pictures.