We’ve all heard the phrase, “Practice makes perfect.” Well, it isn’t true, it just makes you better. The reason I’m bringing this up is because I’ve found that very few parents actually practice parenting. Most parents simply react to situations and have rarely even allowed their children the opportunity to practice something before actually needing to do it.
Case in point: Moms often have to go shopping with their children.
When I was a kid, my mom would often beg and bribe me to help around the house. I’m not saying my mom was wrong (I definitely liked being lazy until I was offered twenty bucks), but I didn’t want to use that with my own kids.
I was turned on to the idea of paying kids for chores by allowing them to earn chore bucks from Jennifer Steward of Stewardship Ministries. She had a neat chore cards system that rewarded kids when they completed all their chores.
The only problem was it required more out of me than I could seemingly handle. I loved the cards, but I didn’t love having to police it and hand out the chore bucks so the kids could use their chore bucks to pick something. So, I did what I always do. I took what I loved about the system, and threw away the parts that didn’t work for me. What I loved was the Reward system. What I didn’t love was that it felt like a bribe to me.
I would purchase items for the “Good Kids Box.” I tried to find things so there would be items each of the kids would like, bouncy balls, pencils, little horses, dinosaurs, Mad Libs, etc. I would catch my kids in the act of doing something good, and reward them. Routine home things were not always rewarded. We changed the name of chores to JOYS (Joyful Obedient Youthful Service). In other words, it was their duty.
I also had another box I called the “Blessed Kids Box.” This box contained small items like gum, little candy bars, erasers, stickers, etc. The point of this box was if one of the kids did something that warranted picking out of the “Good Kids Box,” everyone else was “blessed” to have a sibling who did something to be rewarded, so the rest of the children picked something out of the “Blessed Kids Box.”
Another thing I would sometimes do is just randomly say, “I’m so BLESSED to have such wonderful children.” One of the kids would look at me and smile.
I would smile nod at her and she would announce, “We get to pick out of the blessed kids box!” The kids loved it!
I found that using the Good Kids Box and Blessed Kids Box met my need of wanting to reward good behavior without it being a bribe.
Over the years I have heard the phrase “Can you tell us a story, Mom” many times. I love to make up stories for my children. It was a tradition that was passed down from my mom. When we were little she would make up the most spectacular stories. Many times there would be a suspenseful part of her story. She would get real quiet, we would lean in, then she would shout and we would jump. It was delightful.
I love a good treasure hunt. I use them all the time with educating my children, gift exchanges, etc. They are great fun!
One of my first memories of doing treasure hunts was on my 13th birthday. I planned a great scavenger hunt and hoped that I could get on “his” team. You see, I invited “him” because I liked him. I also invited the girl he liked, because I knew he would come if she was coming. I even mentioned to him that she was coming to the party. Why did I do this? Because I wanted to be near “him” even though I knew the event would cause me pain, watching him with this other girl and wishing it were me.
With my whole being I believe in the abilities of my adult or nearly adult children to make wise choices for their lives. It is for this reason, I refrain from giving unsolicited advice. I am particularly careful when it comes to those monumental decisions.