Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Creative Parenting: Day One

Ok, so let's just cut to the chase. My kids are well behaved for the most part. The majority of the time they are helpful and kind, funny and compassionate, silly and smart. But they are little people. And just like big people, they have bad days. They get cranky. They need something but don't necessarily know how to ask for it and act out in irrational ways that are totally rational to them. I get all that. I fully understand and grasp it all. I am a rational adult...who is sometimes irrational. So I empathize. Emotion is one thing. Sassy pants and bucking the system are another.

There is nothing...absolutely nothing that happens in this house that makes me more angry than being told "no" by a little person. Well, there is one thing and that's the UFC fighting that happens when I need to switch laundry or use the facilities (you smell what I'm steppin' in?). Good. Ok. So being told "no." It happens at least once a day. And then I go into speech mode. "I am the parent. You are the child. When I ask you to do something, you do it. You do NOT tell me no...EVER. I have earned the right....blah blah blah blah blah." So all of that mixed in a with a few more things my mom said to me when I was a sassy pants kid that swore I would never say...but, eh, what you gonna do?

I know, I know...we do the whole love and logic thing. "You have two choices...yada yada yada." That works for almost every thing else. I have read a half dozen parenting books in the past three years. They are great guide books, and work a lot of the time. But this "no" thing..ugh. I hit a brick wall. We took away special toys. That did nothing. We redirected, talked calmly, tried to rationalize, and begged. And then we got creative.

Time for back story.

The girls get allowance for doing things above and beyond the normal tasks that are expected of them to active participants in our house. For Avery this is unloading the dishwasher, putting clothes in the dryer, sweeping, and picking up dog doo-doo. (She did that on her own, btw.) Kendall's "chores" vary according to daily situations. Anyway. For them, they think this is great. Their chore cards get filled and they get a couple bucks. Kendall saves all her money in her wallet. Avery buys necklaces and all things girly. To each their own. But to Avery it is a big deal. She gets $20 in her wallet and it starts burning a giant hole.

Ok. I digress. A few weeks ago, I saw on Pinterest a mom who charged her kids for whining about boredom. Every time they complained, she charged a quarter and put it in a jar in their kitchen. Then she had a jar next to it full of activities or jobs they could do to curb this boredom. Lovely idea. Boredom isn't a problem here yet but I was storing this for future reference.

Then, my dear friend Cassie was here last week and she was telling me about how her mom gave her and her siblings an allowance when they were younger but she charged them an "allowance tax" where she took a portion of their money and put it in a jar. She acted as the "government" and could use that money for whatever she wanted. Sometimes she gave it back, used it as a fun thing for the family to do, or in extreme cases, bought herself something when the kids were misbehaving.

So last night, an idea struck me. What if I combined the two? What if we charged Avery and hit her where it hurt...straight in her pocket book? I ran it by Congress (dad...I mean, he gets a say too, right? ;) ) and he thought it was worth a shot. Then I talked to Avery about it. I told her that if I asked her to do something, and she said "no," I will charge her a dime. She will put a dime in a jar we have set in the kitchen. I got a lot of "no fairs" and "but that's my money" whining. But ultimately, I explained to her that this always was, is, and will be her choice. It is her choice not to listen or to listen. So, if she wants to keep all of her money, she will not tell me "no" any more. (And to clarify, these "no's" come when she is requested to do the things that are expected of her on a daily basis: showering, doing homework, brushing teeth, putting something away.) It is that simple. I earned 20 cents this morning. Not too shabby for her. Only two "no's" over the course of the morning. We are already getting better.

I haven't decided what I will do with the money I collect. Hopefully there won't be much because she will get it rather quickly. Every kid, every family, and every situation is special. What works for one kid doesn't work for the other. And sometimes a Mom just has to throw her hands in the air and wave 'em like she just don't care...and start charging their kids for their sass and 'tude.

I will keep you updated on how this all goes down, pals.

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