By Guest Blogger Shelly Rydell:
BREAKING NEWS: BOSS GIVES 6 YEAR OLD FINANCIAL INCENTIVE PACKAGE.
Let’s abandon that nasty old word called “BRIBE.” There are much more politically correct ways of stating this, and let’s bring it into the real world a bit. When kids get an “allowance,” it’s really a salary – payment for meeting certain expectations. I’m not sure if a kid can get FIRED for not meeting expectations, but these days salary reductions are so common in the real world, they probably should be happening in the kid world, too. And when we need to give kids a little push to encourage them to “take it up a notch,” we offer them not a bribe, but a bonus…. an incentive package. Right?
In the real world, bribes are illegal, and they carry a negative association. So I had doubts about my offer to pay my child to read. We were struggling to get her to read, she was struggling to get over the hump, and we knew that it just took practice. It was becoming a daily battle. I love reading, and I knew that if she could learn to love it, her whole life would benefit immeasurably. So I did not want this to be a constant source of frustration for her, I wanted her to just spontaneously fall in love with reading, and it was not happening. I think the solution started in Target (where all great epiphanies strike!). She wanted something from the $1 aisle, and it hit me!! I offered her a dime for every book she read, and suddenly our world turned around. She was not only reading, she was learning about the value of money, how many dimes it owuld take to buy the things she wanted, and about making good choices. It was working beautifully. She spotted a “Littlest Pet Shop” figurine that was $2.89, and soon she was begging to read four books in one night.
So why did I feel so guilty? The word BRIBE kept coming to mind. I posted a Facebook update – asking my wiser friends if there was something wrong with what I was doing. The comments that came back supported my decision. One friend said she had bribed her son to stay in his bed all night. She offered a quarter, but had to tweak the incentive to two quarters to get it to work. My four year old felt left out… when did she get to earn money for the $1 aisle, too? She can not read yet, so we targeted her weakness – wearing a pull-up at night. I was skeptical about pushing this one – we ‘ve changed months worth of sheets in attempts to get her to make it all night, and after discussions with her pediatrician, decided to put her back in the pull up and let biology dictate when she was ready. But I am stunned to say that with the offer of a quarter for her each time she wakes up dry, we have succeeded 2 out of the past 3 nights. If I had known all those months ago that all it took was a quarter, I would have happily paid the price.
So I think my issues are with the words, not the actions or the results. So now I am going to pretend that we are running Rydell, Inc. and offer compensation packages, bonuses,,, and maybe even a performance review? We may not be a very profitable company since at the end of the day we are just a family. But I think there will be a lot less whining and begging under our roof, and that alone is the mark of success.
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Hey Shelly – I love this! We do something similar with Jake … we call it the money jar. We incent for a whole variety of things and then he earns $$ that is collected in an old applesauce jar that he can later spend on whatever he wants. It is totally teaching him the value of money … and just how long it will take to buy that $80 lego set he has his eye on! (I actually wrote about this a few months back, titled The Money Jar).We've taken our incentive plan up a few notches though – our battle has become getting ready for school in the morning. He gets whiny, I get frustrated, and then we both are off to a rough start to our day. Now he earns stickers on a chart – 1 or 2 depending on how well he does each morning, with the option to earn a bonus sticker if he gets ready with absolutely no whining and without me having to ask him more than once to do something. After 10 stickers, he gets a dollar. It has worked wonderfully. At least for the last 3 weeks. Some days are still rough, but then he tends to snap right out of it the following morning – so much better than what we had been dealing with. And I do not mind one bit parting with a dollar for more peaceful mornings!
Shelly…. AWESOME post. I am so going to use your idea to get my my oldest out of the pull ups. Her body may not be ready, but a little cash incentive may do the trick.