So I posted yesterday my Number One parenting tip: rewards first. The second however, follows closely behind…
Tip #2: stuff costs money.
We know this. We all know it. You get what you pay for in life. Want a new car? Or a house? A holiday? A meal at a nice restaurant? You can have them all – but you need to pay for them. If you’re in the market for a car, and you like Toyota Landcruisers but only have $10K to spend, it’s far more likely that the car you end up buying looks more like Mr Bean’s than you’d like it too.
Likewise, my kids understand the value of things. They understand… because they can be quick learners when they have the incentive to be!
I mentioned yesterday that my kids earn points (and therefore money) by ticking off chores on the app Choremonster. This gives them money to spend.
It also gives them money to lose, on taxes.
Yes, you read that right. Taxes.
Stuff costs money. Including stuff that kids should be responsible for, themselves.
My kids know that they need to pick up after themselves; put things away where they should go.
They also are aware that, when people move house, for example, they pay someone to help them move.
This is what I have in my house.
Mr 6 can’t be bothered moving his bike from where he left it, back to where it should live? That’s fine. I’ll move it for him, and he’ll pay me for the privilege. Moving tax. Miss7 continually leaves her Wii remote on the lounge? Fine, but if it’s still there when I need to sit down, I’ll need to move it and she’ll pay a moving tax. Miss 10, towel on the floor? Fine again – but it incurs a moving tax if she expects me to do it for her.
It’s brilliant; I love it. The kids know that they need to be responsibile, otherwise they’ll end up paying for the privilege of being lazy. And it’s not a set sum. Wii remotes are generally only 20 cents, but moving a bike can be up to $5 (we have a large property). And it adds up! When Miss7 takes off her school uniform and leaves it all on the floor, then that can be 20c for the left shoe, 20c for the right shoe, 20c per sock, 20c for the shirt, 20c for the shorts – that’s $1.20 just for the uniform! Watch out if she’s left her homework folder, school bag, lunchbox etc on the floor as well!
They only do it once.
And taxes don’t just apply to moving things. I have a ‘lights tax’ (for when they leave their bedroom light on) and also a ‘laundering clean clothes tax’ (this one is mainly for Miss10, I must admit). I’ve told her that if she lets her clean school shirt falls off the hanger and onto the floor of her wardrobe, and she then assumes that because it’s on the floor then it’s dirty, and she puts in the laundry ready to be washed again, then that’s fine. I’m happy to wash her perfectly clean shirt, and she needs to be happy to pay me $3 for the privilege. She’s been more careful since she tried that one!
It also applies to food. If my kids want to leave their sandwich crusts, they can. But they can also help me pay for the loaf of bread that they’re choosing to waste. 5 cents per crust is our going rate. And that way, it’s their choice. They can eat their food, or they can pay to leave it. It’s fair, and it cuts out arguments.
Right now, you’re probably thinking, ‘that’s tough’. Yes, possibly so. But my kids are learning that Mummy won’t always be there for them. They’re learning that stuff costs, and things have value.
So many kids today don’t understand that, I’ve noticed. My kids do.
And the way I see it, they’re going to have to learn it one day! May as well be now.
So anyway, that’s my tip #2.
And here’s hoping that you have a lovely rest-of-the-day, dear reader!