We all wish our children would intrinsically process how to make great choices, be helpful around the home, and consider others first! That said, it isn't always as simple as telling our children about how we hope our family will function. Sometimes they need special positive reinforcement to help them see the reward of making great choices. This is where our family economy comes into play. About 2 years ago, we decided to give this a try - and it worked!
A reward system that works.
We have chosen for this system to be positive only. We do not remove gems once earned. We have other natural consequences in our home for when poor choices are made and wanted our family economy to be a positive experience only.
Here is how it is set up:
1. Choose a container for each child in your home (we used Dollar Tree plastic vases).
2. Choose your "gems". Some folks use pennies, we use little glass vase fillers I had in a bin at home.
3. Decide how they are earned (more about that next).
4. Decide on what they can "buy" with their earnings.
5. Start rewarding them liberally so they can quickly enjoy choosing a reward and buy into the system.
Deciding what gets rewarded.
In our home, we value serving others. We value working with a cheerful heart. So these are specific ways our children earn gems. When they are asked to do something and the go about it cheerfully and do it well, they get a couple gems. If they are found serving someone else without any provocation, they get gems.
We do not give gems if they are requested. Our boys have learned that gems are not promised. They may earn them for something one day and then the next, not get gems for the same task. This is because we do not want everything they do to be motivated by a desire for an external acknowledgement. Our hope is that just like we work at our jobs knowing we are compensated AND our Father in Heaven is always rewarding His children for their diligent service, our children will internalize the enjoyment of being "paid" for good work and good choices, and do them when no immediate reward is attainable.
Trading in gems.
Typically, on Sundays or Mondays, we trade in gems. We have a list of things they can "buy". Some are monetary, while others are relationship or snack related. I focused on what they enjoy and value so that the options would truly be a joy for them.
In our family, you may not trade in gems that day if you have had a poor attitude or not been kind to others. This is the only negative consequence related to our family economy.
When one of our kids is saving up gems for a larger reward, they can trade in their gems for a coupon worth 50 or 100 gems. This frees up gems for our family economy.
Choose the rewards.
We have a mix of rewards in our family economy. I created tiers so that the boys could practice saving, while having something attainable at a lower threshold as well. When developing our list, I considered what things were desired by my sons often. Here are some questions you might ask yourself when considering what rewards would work in your home.
1. What do my children enjoy?
2. What snacks are often off limits, or considered special treats?
3. What types of activities do they like to do?
4. How can building relationships factor into the rewards?
5. Do we want money to be an option?
6. Are there other family members who would like to participate?
I suggest posting your rewards list somewhere at your children's eye level so that they know what they can earn.
Introducing the family economy.
For this to work, your kids must be bought in. This means how you introduce it is important. Get everything prepared and ready to go. Then make it a big deal! Decorate their containers, or let them decorate them. Invite them to help brainstorm the rewards or design the posters to hang up.
Be consistent. Offer the gems often the first few days and celebrate with your children as they stock up. Keep it positive and fun. Do not bait with the family economy. Don't let them know they might get gems for a task. Be sure that they know these are given for a job well done with a cheerful heart, but not for things done to be seen and rewarded. Use scripture and prayer to emphasize our true rewards come from our Father above!
Creating visuals.If you would like to get started but don't feel adept at creating the visuals for the reward system and the coupons, you can use the templates I made in canva and adjust them to serve your family. If you decide to use them, please give us a shout out on Instagram by tagging @kindle_togetherness or using our hashtag #kiindletogetherness