Somewhere around a year ago, we began using a creative form of reward and discipline (something God showed me while I was doing the dishes) that has been part of our family’s life, in one form or another, ever since. We’re a spanking and time-out household. Strong-willed hissy fits are our main behavioral issue (I have five, count them, five strong-willed children and I am claiming that will for the Kingdom), and so time-outs are an almost continual happening (because I absolutely refuse to reason with an unreasonable child). I’ve found that after ten minutes or so in time-out they are pretty much begging for forgiveness and are willing to accept whatever consequence is warranted for their initial (pre-fit) behavior. And, sometimes, the consequence for that behavior is the loss of one (or more) of their most prized possessions.
The currency of the Valente household….
“Mama, Tiny Dancer hit me!”
“Cuddle Bug, forgive your sister. Tiny Dancer, you owe your sister a ticket and an apology.”
And that’s not just an example I pulled out of a hat, I’m pretty sure I said that today. If Bay Bit breaks something of Lil Prince’s, she has to pay him in tickets. If Lil Prince doesn’t come the first time I call him, while I am busy in the kitchen, elbow deep in chicken, I might (and do often) start counting, “One ticket…two tickets…three tickets..,” and you can bet he will book it down the stairs.
That, in short, is how they lose tickets.
Here’s how they earn them….
(Quiet time, happiness, obedience, brushing teeth, brushing hair, making bed, getting dressed, doing homework, taking/picking up trash, cleaning table, picking up toys, doing dishes and folding laundry.)
At the close of every day I sit under this chart with each child and go through the sections carefully, letting them help me decide how many stars (which are immediately redeemed for tickets) they should receive. They can earn up to two stars for obedience, happiness, brushing teeth and brushing hair. For everything else, one star is the limit, and they always get one allowance ticket that is completely unearned and cannot be lost. In addition to the chart time, I will also reward extraordinary behavior, throughout the day, with a ticket or two.
And each child has a pocket like this one, at the front of his or her notebook, where they store and save their tickets.
When we first began the ticket system, we felt the need to have a stocked “store” and to keep it open at all times. Even though we were only stocking with candy and chapstick, though, it quickly became more than we could handle financially, and our children weren’t inspired to save beyond the immediate gratification fulfilled by candy.
After about six months of evolution, we have ended up with a system that works perfectly with our tight budget and our children’s currency. And you saw the result of that this morning! We do occasionally pick up a trinket, or a bag of candy, and offer that at a lower price (sometimes they bite, sometimes they don’t), but we also have three big ticket items that have caused quite a stir with our kids.
30 tickets = a late night alone with Mom and Dad
50 tickets = a happy meal at McDonald’s (we eat fast food about once a month, but we never splurge for the Happy Meal), or a lunch date with Mom or Dad.
100 tickets = king or queen for a day!
Today, and we’re all super proud of him because he was the first to save to one-hundred (his sisters are fast on his heels), Lil Prince was our king.
He didn’t do a single chore all day (paid time-off, of course), he ordered German Pancakes for his breakfast in bed and chocolate cake for his special dessert. His wish was pretty much our command throughout the day, and he even stayed up a little later than his sisters to play video games with Dad. His sisters were happy to oblige him, thrilled to honor his achievement (a hugging party actually ensured when he traded in his one-hundred tickets and picked a calendar day for his pampering).
Basically, he was spoiled rotten…something we don’t get to do much of (individually) around here.
And that, my friends, is my best explanation of our ticket system and documented proof of the first ever “Lil Prince Day” (of which I’m sure there will be many more)!
It was your day, sweet boy. And you earned it!!