I am annoyed. My 7 year-old son has begun frequently yelling at his sisters, my 4-going-on-44-year-old is becoming bossier than me, and horror of horrors, I swear I caught my 9 year-old ruffling her feathers and giving me an eye roll! It is clearly time to reinstate our point system which has fallen by the wayside of late.
Here’s how it works: Everyone starts with 5 points. Each child can earn points for “good” behavior and lose points for “bad” behavior. The goal is to reach 30 points at which time that child chooses from a list of non-material rewards, for example a “date” with Mom or Dad, ice cream in the middle of the afternoon, Kids Cook Night, make cookies, etc. (no money or purchases).
If someone gets to 0 points then they must miss the next bi-weekly class ski/swim trip (during the school year), or they must choose a random chore from the chore basket (summertime).
We keep a list of sample point-gaining behaviors and point-losing behaviors posted on the wall next to the point chart. The children and I came up with the list together so they have ownership of the consequences of certain actions. The list is not definitive and I am the final decision-maker as to when a point is earned or deducted.
The system is flexible. For example when I got tired of all three children having “bad dreams” and ending up in my bed every single night, I started the policy that they would lose a point for every night they came into bed with me and earn a point for every night they stayed in their own bed. That didn’t work, so I changed it to losing 2 points for coming into bed with me but earning 1 point for staying in their own beds. Like magic, the “bad dreams” disappeared! (Note: Of course if they REALLY have a bad dream, they can still come to bed with me – for free. Like most mothers, I can tell when the need is real.)
- Flexible to suit changing behavioral goals.
- Not entirely negative/punishment based. The system rewards positive behavior.
- Easy to keep track: I track all points on a dry erase board hung on the pantry wall.
- Does not rely on money, allowances or material goods as an incentive or punishment.
- I can spontaneously say “Go give yourself a point” when I observe (or am told of) a random really kind or helpful behavior.
- Sorry, but in my house this is NOT a democratic process. I am the final judge, jury and arbitrator of points, rewards and sentences, (although the children can make recommendations or defend themselves).
What do you do to maintain order?