Category Archives: Taming the home and children

Behavior Bucks (2016 edition)

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Every year I revise our Behavior Bucks and print off a new set.  After going through the kids’ hands, pockets, laundry, etc for a year, they begin to get quite worn.

I enjoy designing a new Behavior Buck each year, and the kids enjoy receiving the new edition (although we continue to use and accept all previous years of Behavior Bucks– but as time goes on I destroy the ones that become too worn).

I make the Behavior Bucks measure exactly equal to that of a U.S. dollar bill (2.61 inches wide x 6.14 inches long); this way they can stash their Behavior Bucks in any regular wallet!

So here is the unveiling of our 2016 Behavior Bucks!!!

Behavior Bucks 2016 (1)

I got the cute “Choose the Right” emblem from http://melonheadsldsillustrating.blogspot.com.  She has so many cute illustrations!  I wish I had her talent…

I particularly like the CTR/RTC acronym– if we strive to CTR (Choose the Right), then, through the atonement of Christ, we can RTC (Return to Christ).  Cause and effect!

And here is a PDF of them (I fit 3 Behavior Bucks per sheet of paper, and make some of them worth $1 and some worth $5)  Behavior Bucks 2016

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Behavior Bucks Rewards

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Over the past few years, our rewards for Behavior Bucks have evolved as our children have grown and their interests have evolved.

I began with making coupons available for purchase (like little credit cards).  These were fun, but it didn’t allow the kids to see ALL the rewards available quickly and easily.  Also, they’d get bent or lost.

Then I changed to a simple list (no pictures).  This wasn’t fun enough.  I learned that I need to ADVERTISE all the fun things they can buy in order to more effectively encourage them to work towards earning Behavior Bucks.  When you go to a store, there are fun colors and bright pictures to entice you to buy things… A simple black-and-white list wouldn’t get you excited to make a purchase.

Alas, here is my latest edition of the Behavior Buck Rewards:

behavior buck rewards

There are pictures to accompany each item, both to increase the excitement factor AND, as an added benefit, so our toddler can interpret the different rewards available.  They are all on one page so everything can easily be seen at one glance (no flipping through cards, or reading through long lists).

I also changed some of the prices– generally our kids earn 2-3 Behavior Bucks per day (one for chores, and one for school well done, and one for doing something extra or exceptional).  The conversion rate is approximately 2 Behavior Bucks per dollar we spend out of pocket for an activity (so in monetary value, they earn around $1/day).  For example, it costs us about $10 to take a child out to eat at a restaurant, so therefore, it costs 20 Behavior Bucks for this treat.

Now $1/day is probably more allowance than I’d hand out, but oftentimes parents give allowance on TOP of freebie fun outings out to eat or to the movies.  Although we do sometimes just go out and do things for free without “charging” the kids, generally we require them to pay for things using their Behavior Bucks.  (This is also an effective way to find out if the kids are actually interested in going somewhere/doing something… If they’re not willing to spend their Behavior Bucks to go see a movie, then it’s obviously not a movie they’d actually like to see).

Also, we take away Behavior Bucks for naughty behavior.  And they do NOT earn them if they haven’t finished their schoolwork or chores (we hand out Behavior Bucks every night before prayers/bedtime).  So in reality, although our kids could earn our kids earn 21 Behavior Bucks in any given week, they actually earn (and keep) an average of 12 Behavior Bucks per week (an equivalent of around $6).  I think it is money well-spent to encourage positive behavior, in addition to teaching delayed gratification as they work and save to earn some of the more expensive rewards!

Chore Chart for our Kids

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I revise our chore chart twice a year or so.  EVERYBODY becomes complacent when they are given the same job over and over again.  Changing things up a bit helps keep the kids on their toes, and also gives them the opportunity to practice important life skills in different areas of the household!  I can’t emphasize this enough.  Your kids’ chores MUST change at least semi-annually, or you WILL see a decrease in their work ethic and efficiency.  For some reason, making the change from taking the trash out instead of emptying the dishwasher is super exciting and reinvigorates hard work.

We used to swap chores every week.  Switching chores weekly was too often, in my opinion, as the kids would forget whose week it was to do which set of chores.  And wracking my brain at bedtime trying to remember who should have done what during the day was too exhausting!  Anywhere from once a month, to semi-annually, seems to be a good time to change up chores.

You’ll notice a NEW player on my chore chart– our 3-year-old!  He’s beginning to show interest in helping out, and he wants so much to be like the older boys.  I thought we better take advantage of his alacrity and get that boy some chores!

(Calvin is 3; Jameson is 9; Nekoda is 11)

Chores

I really do try to assign the kids chores that they seem to enjoy (although obviously they’re NOT going to like everything).  For instance, I noticed that Nekoda would often actually come and ask me if he could help out with making dinner, so I thought that would be a perfect “chore” for him!

I got the jurisdiction idea from a book I read by the Duggar family. (Despite all the craziness their family is going through right now, I am blown away by how well they seem to manage their children and household).  I am excited to see how it works in our home.

We used to have “10-minute-clean up” every night, which was more than enough time to get all our toys put away (you know, so I could bask in the perfection of a clean home after the kids went to bed).  That worked super well for about a year.  And then the kids started getting complacent.  One child would inevitably end up doing most of the cleaning up, while the other child would slowly examine toys and look at books instead of actively putting things away.  So then we changed to switching off nights… Nekoda would be responsible for cleaning up one night, and then Jameson the next.

I decided to change that up again by introducing “jurisdictions”, so everyone is working at cleaning their area of focus (we’ll probably switch jurisdictions once a week).  In our home, there are 3 main areas that need attention at the end of the day:

  • Kitchen (I HATE being left with a horribly messy kitchen to clean all by myself after already spending an hour in there making everyone dinner)
  • Living room (which has our piano and books– which are pulled from the shelves every day… the price I pay for not letting our kids watch TV)
  • Family room (which houses all our toys, organized with baskets for each category of toy)

The boys will take turns cleaning each “jurisdiction” (Calvin, being new to the concept, will need me or my husband to guide him).

Another change to the chore chart is “meal prep” for the older boys on the weekend.  I will sit down with each of them earlier in the week and help them plan dinner for either Saturday or Sunday.  They can write out their shopping list and then be responsible for making dinner (I’ll help, of course).  Their wives can thank me later.

**UPDATE**

One year later, I decided that the kids are capable of helping out more. I added an extra chore to their charts, making sure to include the responsibility of helping with the younger children (reading to them, assisting them in completing chores, etc).

The hardest time in my day is between 4:30-5pm. I could use help with the kids and help with the meal preparation during this time. So I decided to have BOTH of my older kids assigned to either watch the kids or help me make dinner.

I still really like them having their own “jurisdiction”, or part of the house they are responsible for making shine each day.

screen-shot-2017-02-03-at-9-57-04-pm

You’ll also notice “A” chores and “B” chores. I decided that rather than have each boy responsible for the same exact chore list each week, I would swap their chores each Sunday. This gives them more experience doing different chores, and helps them from becoming complacent with their work. (It also adds a little competition to the mix… they want to do a better job than their sibling does and then brag a little about it).

I feel strongly that some chores should be changed up on an annual or semi-annual basis so that kids can get comfortable helping out in different ways around the house.  I really like the extensive lists of age appropriate chores here at the blog “Homeschool Your Boys”.

A day in the life of my toddler

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Our 3-year-old has become a bit of a disaster… he dumps toys and won’t clean them up.  He runs from activity to activity. He whines and cries at me.  Today it dawned on me that he would probably really benefit from a visual schedule.  Although we basically go through the same routine every day, perhaps he doesn’t know what is coming next. KNOWING what to expect helps everyone feel more calm and happy.

So tonight after I put the kids to bed, I wrote out his schedule:calvin schedule

Each activity for a child this age generally lasts 3o minutes (or less).  Except going for walks and playing outside.  My boys could play outside for HOURS and never get bored.

In the “read with mom or outing” part of the schedule, I take him to a library story time once per week, and also to a community play group once per week.

Crossing my fingers this will help us all out!

Incorporating God into my kids’ lives

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Over the past few months, my kids and I have been listening to “Scripture Scouts” in the car, everywhere we go.  These are stories and songs that tell and explain scripture stories.  The songs are really catchy, and even our toddler is starting to learn and sing them!  Here is their website where you can listen to some of their songs.  And you can purchase their CDs or MP3 downloads at Deseret Book.  I highly recommend it (and they didn’t pay me to say that!).

I also just learned about Seeds Family Worship.  These are short videos and songs of scripture verses that can help kids (or adults) memorize scripture passages.  I think we’ll try to learn one each week as a family.  It is important for us all to have something our minds can go to when we are faced with temptation or if we are struggling.  Having good passages to recall by memory will be wonderful.  Seeds Family Worship sells CDs with their music on their website, but there are also quite a few songs available for free on their Seeds Family Worship YouTube Channel.

Behavior Bucks

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We needed a way to motivate our children to be cooperative, particularly with school.  We tried taking away privileges for misbehavior.  But much to my dismay, no amount of revoking privileges and threatening was very effective.  Since our previous discipline procedure has been ineffective, we decided to veer more towards the positive reinforcement route.  My husband came up with the idea of allowing our children to earn tokens for good behavior, which they can redeem later for things they want.  Then we got to work on devising a monetary system.

Here’s what we came up with–

Our Behavior Bucks

Each day, one Behavior Buck is earned simply for doing schoolwork and chores without (too much) complaint.  If there is whining about school or “forgetting” to do chores, then the child will not earn a Behavior Buck for the day.

We will also randomly reward additional Behavior Bucks when we notice our children doing a good job or exceeding expectation, or when they agree to do an extra job.  Being exceptionally helpful at entertaining and running after younger siblings during doctor’s appointments, for instance, is deserving of an extra Behavior Buck.  Or when the piano teacher says that lesson went really well that week, I also hand out an extra Behavior Buck.

Occasionally, I issue a “ticket”, in which a Behavior Buck must be paid to mom or dad for refusal to be obedient, lying, throwing tantrums, etc.  This does not happen very often, because I have angel children, of course! 😉

Then, we brainstormed things that are enjoyable for kids, keeping in mind what our children find particularly enticing.  We decided on prices for each thing; then, I designed, printed, and laminated reward cards.

Behavior Redemption Behavior Redemption pg2 Behavior Redemption pg3

Ideally, we open the “Family Store” just before dinner, where the children have a chance to redeem Behavior Bucks.  We have all the reward cards in the Family Store, along with some extra goodies (bubble bath, inexpensive toys, etc) that they can buy.

As your children’s interests evolve, so do your Behavior Buck rewards.  For instance, my boys are trying to earn money for Cub Scout day camp right now.  So we introduced a new Behavior Buck redemption option for earning money for day camp:  2 Behavior Bucks can be traded in for $1.

Of course, it doesn’t matter how grand an idea or system is if you don’t have buy-in.  It is important to really know your children and what motivates them.  I am confident that as our children grow and mature, a “trip to the swings” won’t be enticing any more.  As our children reach adolescence, we’ll probably begin paying in “real” money rather than Behavior Bucks.  But I LOVE how effective our Behavior Bucks have been!