Monday, October 17, 2016

Teaching kids behavior and money management

A token economy

Sometimes with kids, traditional behavior modification techniques just don't work. And believe me, with my triplet 7 year olds, I've tried just about everything. After talking with a psychologist, we decided to start a token economy. It serves multiple purposes, including but not limited to rewarding the positive, failing to reward for the negative, and saving to purchase the things you want. 
In searching for something cheap and yet sturdy to use for the tokens, I came across small jingle bells at the Dollar Tree. Fifty for a dollar. You can't really beat that. So I bought 300 ($6) and 3 plastic jars. Each child's name was placed on theirs and they are prominently displayed on the mantel. I've since bought another 150 bells and am looking for more.
We had a family meeting at dinner and decided how they could earn bells and how they could lose the privilege of earning. The psychologist said it was important that we never take bells away. They need to keep the bells they have earned so the good things aren't undone. 
And so, we came up with the following plan:
To earn a bell:
  • Do something as soon as told (go to bed, put away your laundry, etc.)
  • Put your dishes in the sink without being told
  • Do a chore as soon as told
  • No bad behavior at my school when they come over after school. 
  • Bonus bells can be earned for anything they do really well or out of the ordinary. 
Spending bells:
  • 3 bells-control the remote for the evening
  • 3 bells-toy or kindle back if taken (must be at least 24 hours later)
  • 5 bells-sit in recliner for the day
  • 10 bells-choose the restaurant if we are going out.
  • 20 bells-ice cream at school
  • 30 bells-trip to dollar store
  • 50 bells-Their aunt eats lunch at school
  • 75 bells-private dinner out with their aunt
  • 100 bells-private dinner out with mommy
  • 150 bells-a colored steak of hair with the 6 week temporary hair dye. 
Misbehavior results in losing the privilege of earning bells for a day:
  • hitting/kicking/shoving
  • standing/climbing on furniture
  • "no" or talking back
  • extreme name calling
We came up with this list through a family meeting. I prompted a lot, but they agreed. I targeted 1-2 bad behaviors per child in how they lose the right to earn bells. I targeted several things each needs to work on doing on how to earn bells. And for spending, I tried to come up with things they either fight about or want to do but we don't do often.  
All this information is hanging on the side of our refrigerator so they can see it any time. The idea is that as certain behaviors become innate, they are removed from the list and new things are targeted.  
On a perfect day, each child can earn 5-6 bells. That only happens a few times a week between the 3 of them.
Bell tallies are in the 60s and 70s. No one will redeem bells. Everyone is holding on for something big. I know my 3rd wants the blue streak of hair. The others I don't know. I thought my son wanted the dollar store trip. It he hasn't redeemed yet. 
But it has improved behavior a ton. I'm doing less screaming and more gentle reminder that they don't want to lose the right to a bell. That usually straightened them out quickly. 
I was very skeptical at first, but it's working. And that is the goal. :)

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