My kids are testing the waters these days, y’all. Testing the rules and the expectations and my patience. Time out does not work for the big kids, clearly. It’s only working half the time with Mase now too. We’re entering a whole new season of parenting and we’ve had to up our game to keep up with these kids!
1. Toy Ransom. One of my biggest challenges lately has been the toy clutter all over the house. When I reno’d the downstairs this summer all the toys went upstairs to the kids bedrooms. They’re allowed to bring toys downstairs to play with but all toys must be taken back upstairs before bedtime. That rule is great in theory but my kids needed an extra incentive to comply. So I started the toy ransom. Every night after bedtime I walk around and collect all the stray toys in a garbage bag and hold them for ransom. The owner of each toy has to do an extra chore to earn back their toy. Because the toys in the ransom bag tend to be favorite toys the ransom really works.
2. Natural Consequences. We’ve always done natural consequences to a degree but inevitably mom would cave. We weren’t getting anywhere because we weren’t being consistent. I had to change my behavior and now that I have, we’ve seen a huge difference. Some of the most common natural consequences in our house include not being able to go outside and play because they didn’t get their homework finished before dinner, not having time to watch a television show before bed because they didn’t get their chores done in time, or not getting dessert because they didn’t finish their vegetables. Ty had to wear a stinky practice uniform to football tryouts the other day because he didn’t put it in the washer as requested when he came home. I’m a big believer that consequences should teach a lesson, not just provide a punishment.
3. Paid Conflict Resolution Services. This summer I started charging for my services in conflict resolution in our house. The fighting and arguing was wearing me down, mediating one argument after another all day long is a miserable way to spend time. I expect my kids to be able to work out their issues without me, within reason of course. I started charging each child $1 if I have to intervene and broker a peace treaty. If physical violence is involved and I have to step in, the price goes up to $2 per child. It took a few weeks but having to fork over that cash was enough of a jolt to make my kids resolve their own issues without involving me.
4. The Chore Jar. Time-out stopped working in our house a while ago for the bigger kids. So I instituted the chore jar instead. I wrote out chores on scraps of paper and filled a jar with them. And not the easy chores either- the ones nobody wants to do like cleaning toilets, sweeping the garage, washing the fridge out, scrubbing the floors, etc. Anytime a negative behavior is displayed or a rule is broken the offending kid has to pick a chore from the jar and complete it.
5. Irresponsibility Fees. This one is mainly for Ty. I charge him $3 if he misses the bus and I have to drive him to school because he overslept or wasn’t ready to go on time. He has a bad habit of forgetting to set his alarm and then he dawdles around until he misses the bus. He is appalled at the thought of shelling out $3 for me chauffeur services. He also hasn’t missed the bus yet this year. Coincidence? I think not.
I have found that using these creative consequences with my kids instead of the traditional grounding or taking away of privileges has made all the difference. It’s more about teaching life skills and promoting responsibility than doling out a punishment.
What creative ways do you teach your kids responsibility and consequences in your house?
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