Sunday, July 17, 2011

Coupons for Cooperation

  Many years ago I found an article in the magazine insert of my Sunday paper.  I couldn't wait to use it with Matt, and I believe it contained some of my most used parenting tips.  I'll share one of the five each week.  I hope these might help you all as you get ready for the next school year.
The topics dealt with Cooperation;  Cars;  Cash;  Curfew; and Comrades.

 The ideas behind cooperation were simple.  No matter how badly our kids behave, we get them what they need.  If our child is playing a sport, we make sure they have the proper equipment .  The article suggested getting kids to earn the very things we would eventually give them anyway.  Here are some of my examples.

   As an eight year old, Matt could not be bothered doing the spelling assignments.  The teacher wanted one from a list of four done Monday through Thursday, and be ready for the test on Friday.  Matt was a good student and thought it a waste of time.  I asked him if he would like to earn a new baseball glove in time to try out the following month, just by doing his schoolwork.  I had his attention. I told him that he would be able to earn 'coupons  for cooperation'.   I set up a chart using a calendar, with the last block as a coupon.  Matt got a checkmark for each homework assignment that he did without an argument.  We checked the sales papers for the cost of the glove.  He was earning checkmarks easily.  I wanted to keep this going as long as I could.  We told him that if he earned enough points, he could even earn a batting glove!!  It was a win-win.  Assignments got done without a battle, and he got to pick out a glove that we would have gotten him anyway.  The next time, I made it more difficult to earn the prize, and he continued to work for them.
   We used it as an incentive when we were planning our trip to Disney.  Matt earned  money for the trip, and we had easier morning and bedtime routines.  We also decided that we would match every dollar that he accumulated for the trip.  That way he wasn't spending it as fast as he made it.  Our thinking was that Matt would use this money for souveniers because it had already been included as part of our budget.
   The last time I used my 'coupons for cooperation' was when Matt was a senior in high school.  He and a few friends were going on a ski trip during Winter vacation, at the end of the month.    His dad and I decided how much money we would give him for spending money.  I asked  Matt if he would be interested in earning some spending money for his trip, and he said he'd give it a try.  (Money we would have given him anyway).  My coupons were done on the computer, and they would be easy to accomplish. 
 He could earn money for joining us for dinner ( something he never had time to do).  I had five separate meals and he cashed in on all of them.
He could earn money for a smile (hey, I said they'd be easy).   Matt earned it during a basketball game.  He scored a basket , then turned to me and gave me a beautiful smile.  One of the Mom's I was sitting with commented.  I told her about the coupons,  She laughed and said her son was so stressed about college, she'd be willing to pay him for a smile!   If you have ever had a child waiting to hear about college acceptance, I know you can relate!!!
One of the coupons said to 'give Mom a compliment'.  One morning as Matt was leaving for school, he said "Bye Ma, and might I say you look marvelous" !!  Then he turned and check the coupon that was on the refrigerator.  We laughed, because I was still in my pyjamas! I loved it!!!  We were having more fun than we had in a long time!!  It was a win-win in my opinion.
I hope these made you smile, and perhaps give you some ideas as you set up the routines for school next fall.  Just take what you like and leave the rest.....have a good week everyone....
I'll tackle the second installment next time....

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