Monday, February 25, 2013

Earning Gems - Rewarding Good Behavior

My son Tim is off at college and so his girlfriend Chelsie.  Chelsie took a semester off awhile back to be a nanny in Alaska.  It was quite the adventure and was a great experience for her.  Now that she is back in school she is continuing to earn extra money by being a nanny, or sitter, part time for a couple of families.  She is really great with the kids and has many wonderful ideas about how to raise and educate them and knowing that I homeschool Gess she often shares them with me.  She gets these ideas from various places, some are from the families she works for, some from school, some are from research and others are from her own creative mind. One time while we were visiting her on campus she shared something one of the families were doing with their kids.  I loved it and have recently began implementing it with Gess.

One of the things we emphasize with Gess is that it is not obedience if you do not obey the first time.  There is no counting to three, no begging or pleading, or any reminders in our house.  If you do not obey the first time, it really is not obedience.  Now that does not mean Gess gets in an awful lot of trouble if she doesn't immediately obey, but we do try to teach her that is the goal.  Well, one of the families Chelsie works for had her child earn a marble or something to place in a jar each time he got ready for school without having to be helped or asked.  I thought that was great and would be a perfect way to help teach Gess obedience!  So here is what we do.

We wait for Gess to obey the first time she is told something and when she does we tell her what a great job she has done.  Then we give her a gem to place in her jar.

Once the jar is full she can cash them in for something really cool.  We decided not to place a dollar value on the jar or gems.  If she fills her jar we will let her do something special.  It could be going to the movie theatre, skating, or simply playing tennis at the park.  Sometimes we may buy her something special instead.  The key is to let the reward be something truly special that they love to do and keep it within your budget.  Gess absolutely loves playing tennis with us and we really don't get to do that very much.  She would gladly cash her gems in for a day like that and it would not cost us a dime.   Of course if I can afford it we might go off to the zoo or science museum instead.  Whatever she wants that is in reason.

Now there is one important rule she must follow.  Gess can not ask for the gem.  Even if she obeys the first time, the reward is not guaranteed and can not be asked for.  Even if we would have given her one, if she asks before we do then she gets none.  We do not want to turn obedience into getting paid for behavior that should be expected anyway.  While we generally use this for obedience we also give her one when when she does something exceptionally well.  Any time there is something positive that we want to acknowledge, we will give her a gem.  Recently Gess has gotten gems for:

1. Getting off the computer immediately when asked, instead of waiting until her level is done.
2.  Helping daddy with a task when it took him longer than he thought and she was helpful and well behaved the whole time. 
3. Sweeping up a mess in the kitchen when no one asked her to.
4. For stopping herself from getting angry before she did something that would have gotten her in trouble. 

Gess actually gets quite excited about getting a gem and she hasn't even filled one jar yet.  Getting something pretty and shiny is fun for a child, even before it's exchanged for a prize!  It's a really great way to teach behavior in a positive way.  While punishment is sometimes necessary, it's so much better to give the good behavior lots of attention too.  That way children won't feel like the only time you pay them any attention is when they are doing wrong and when they want your attention, they will know a way to get it that will make you both very happy!

Thanks Chelsie for sharing these wonderful gems with us!  You are quite the gem yourself!  This is one of my favorite pictures of Chelsie and Gess together.  You can certainly see that they are very happy when they are together. 

Chelsie has had some other great ideas I hope to share with you soon.  I just have to get around to using them!

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