Getting our children to follow our lead can be a lot more challenging than the method the Pied Piper used. In fact the key is changing it up and keeping it fresh. Keeping them marching to the beat of your drum is key to kicking the chaos out of your castle.
One of the ideas we've used at different time involves a ticket system. It's easy to carry out and can be pulled out when you feel like they are marching off course in the wrong direction with their behavior.
The first thing you'll need is a roll of tickets like the kind you accumulate at arcades for winning games. You can pick up a roll of 500 at a party supply store for around $3.99. You can use this Ticket System over the next few years at different times and sometimes the tickets get lost. Next, make a list of the behaviors you want to get rid of and the behaviors you want to encourage for the next 21 days. Why 21 days? According to scientific study, it takes 21 days to change a habit or get rid of a behavior. If you want to complete the task and solidify the good behaviors, it actually takes 63 days, but start with 21.
Examples of behaviors to encourage by earning tickets:
Saying “yes mam/sir” or “no mam/sir” when spoken to = 1 ticket
Answering appropriately when you call their name with “yes” and not “huh” = 1 ticket
Coming to the table for dinner on the first call = 1 ticket
Doing early morning responsibilities before coming to breakfast like making their bed and getting dressed. = 2 tickets
Saying morning prayers before coming down to breakfast using prayer cards (see last months post) = 2 tickets.
Obeying the first time they are told to do something ie. "first time obedience" = 1 ticket
Offering to help with a chore or task you are doing without prompting = 2 tickets
Putting away clean laundry = 1 ticket
Putting away toys at the end of each day = 2 tickets
Memorizing their scripture memory verse by Friday each week = 3 tickets
Examples of behaviors to discourage by loosing tickets:
Breaking one of the 10 commandments = 3 tickets
Refusing to apologize when they have done something wrong upon prompt = 2 tickets
Throwing a temper tantrum = 3 tickets
Getting a snack without asking = 2 tickets
Turing on the TV or playing on the computer without asking = 2 tickets
Playing with your cell phone without asking = 2 tickets
Saying an inappropriate word or phrase= 2 tickets
Hurting another person = 3 tickets
Next, have a family craft time and let them decorate their ticket container with stickers and paint etc. You can use shoe boxes or clear mason jars. I prefer the jars so tickets are easily seen for motivation, You can call it the "Choice Jar".
Explain the ticket system by going over the behaviors you would like to see and those you would like to discourage. During the first week each child will start the day with 5 tickets in their jar. You can explain that the number "5" in scripture means “grace” and we are going to start with grace for the first week while we're learning the system. The free tickets will allow them to quickly learn what it means to be the person responsible for making the decisions and choosing good over bad choices.
At the end of every week there should be a reward based on the total number of tickets they have earned for the week. Let them choose from the list which reward they want to cash in for tickets. They turn in their tickets for their reward and start all over again on Monday. For example, if they've earned 8 tickets for the week, they can turn in 5 and make a choice from the "5" ticket list and save the other three tickets for the start of the next week. If they've earned more than 15 but not up to 30 they can cash in 15 for a 15 ticket choice and save the extra for the next week, etc.
Here are some reward examples:
5 tickets earns one of the following
5 extra minutes on the computer
5 extra minutes between a subject in school for play time/down time
5 extra tickets for next weeks total
10 extra minutes on the computer
10 cents for their bank
10 minutes of extra reading before bed
Hot cocoa and a book with mom after school hours
15 extra minutes in the tub to play on Friday or Saturday
A game of hide and seek with mom and dad
Ice cream out with mom or dad
30 cents in their bank
A 30 minute educational show to snuggle up together on Saturday morning
Date night with the parent of the child’s choice.
This system has really worked for us at times when nothing else seems to be working. It only takes them once or twice of becoming bankrupt before they catch on. If this happens, it’s an opportunity to talk about being spiritually bankrupt without the Lord in our lives to help us and forgive us when we blow it. Stick to the plan and you'll have them marching to your drum and following along in peace before you know it.