Now, I realize when I was young I didn’t grasp the concept of money much either, but I grew up kind of on the poor side. Sure, we had shelter and food on the table – but there was never disposable income for anything extra. I went to the library for my books. I only received toys on birthdays and Christmas. And there was only something special to eat if we had a coupon. Nothing tragic there -I never think of myself as deprived. Sure, I had wanted lessons in tennis, and dance, but I learned how to work hard for the things I want so it built character.
Along the way, I never set out to spoil my kids. We don’t have tons of money either, but I noticed I am more of a free flowing type of mom. I put quarters in the little merry go round machines at the mall. I let them pick out movies from Redbox and Netflix, gifts from the dollar store, and pretty much anything they want at the supermarket. I take them to McDonalds for happy meals. I never buy them expensive toys, but will occasionally surprise them with little things because it makes me happy.
But lately, my little one has been demanding toys. Then throwing fits if he doesn’t get them.
This shocked me. My son is not a spoiled brat, but he certainly started acting like one. And I wasn’t sure what to do about it. I lectured him. Let him have the tantrum. I didn’t buy what he wanted. But his obsession with superheroes short charged his brain until he became crazed and begged daily for STUFF.
Finally, at my wits end, I sat him down and had a talk. I explained if he didn’t want to wait for Christmas, he’d need to EARN the money. I set out the rules this way. I would give him one dollar for every job he did around the house that I assigned to him. If he did it right, when he completed the jobs to equal the price of the toy, I would then take him to the store and buy them.
I must admit, I was surprised it worked. My son became eager to work for his toys, and haunted me for jobs to do around the house. When I gave him one, he completed the job without complaints, and was excited when I inspectedt. His brother tried to mess up the room he spent an hour cleaning once, and all I heard was my little tyrant yelling at his older brother, “Do not take out any toys from this room! I just cleaned it!”
He’d been targeted on obtaining Mr. Freeze to battle his Batman. It was six dollars. Last week, he completed his sixth job and I informed him we were going to the store to buy it. He shook with excitement, and when we came out with Mr. Freeze, the joy on his face was priceless.
Of course, my triumph didn’t take long to fall apart.
I heard the boys talking in their room, and my younger one was warning his brother not to mess up the room. The older one then said,
“Don’t worry. We’ll mess up the room, and then you’ll get to clean it up and get another dollar!”
Then his brother said, “Yeah!”
I burst into the room and explained the process did not work that way. But the looks on their faces told me they weren’t listening. They had found the weakness in my plan and would push through the fragile crack until the wall crumbled.
Welcome to motherhood.
Have you had to develop any new rules or initiatives in your house? What’s succeeded? What’s failed?
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