Sunday, September 11, 2011

Collecting Quarters

Each morning as my children get ready to head out the door to catch the school bus, I issue last-minute reminders.

  • Brush your teeth -- with toothpaste!
  • Pack your backpack. Make sure you have homework/notes/signed papers/your lunch.
  • Turn off the lights upstairs on your way down.
Every day the reminders are the same. Most of them are pretty routine to them and would probably be accomplished without the reminders. However, I feel like the gentle nudges keep things moving along and avoid a last-minute rush or panic.

But then whenever I go upstairs during the day, I end up turning lights off in Kyle's sink area, their shared bath, Amanda's bedroom and closet.

Every day.

I decided that I would start issuing an electric surcharge. I told them so, and even gave Kyle a final reminder as he headed out the door, "Did you turn out the lights?"


When he came home, I told him that he owed me 50 cents, because he left the lights on in his sink area and the bathroom. It didn't really bug him. "I'll pay you when I go to bed, because I'll be near my money."

I forgot to ask when he went to bed, but he remembered the next morning and brought it to me.  The threat of a fine has worked better for Amanda, who is truly learning and appreciating the value of a buck (and even of silver). However, when she went out with her dad for the afternoon on Saturday, she left the light above her vanity area on, and her straightening iron plugged in. She coughed up 50 cents when she got home.

I've always believed in logical consequences -- in theory -- but the cold hard reality is that I still rely too much on yelling or nagging. So far, this is working for all of us. In general, they are little more mindful of turning off the lights behind them. If I do have to turn off a light, I get a quarter. I may even stop issuing the reminders. I'm not really irritated about it, because I'm collecting those quarter-dollars in a lovely little dish.

They're adding up, and soon I'm going to treat myself to something good.

What kinds of logical consequences help you to stop nagging and yelling and encourage your kids to take responsibilities on for themselves?


Karla E said...

Jennifer, you know I'm a big fan of logical consequences. I like this one...I've been needing something for leaving the lights on. Since my kids get an allowance, money is often a logical consequence. Nick lost a soccer ball at a recent tournament...just forgot it somewhere. So he had to buy a new one...he didn't even argue, just pulled the money out of his bank and paid for a new one. I need a logical consequence for leaving your dirty clothes on the floor...any ideas?

Jennifer, Snapshot said...

I know, Karla. I thought of you, because like me, you believe in them, but unlike me, you are good at applying them.

I've heard of people who take the clothes that are left on the floor, then they have to "buy" them back (not at full price, of course, but for some penalty charge). However, people with boys or other kids who don't care about clothes said it didn't really work. They'd wear the same pair of jeans every day if they lost the others, but it's worth a try.

Katrina @ Callapidder Days said...

I like this -- sounds like a good source of "latte money." :) My kids are good about lights (usually), but there are definitely other issues that could use some natural consequences.