Mom! I’m done sweeping the bedroom. What other chores can I do? I want to earn more chore points!
Spane Boswell, Age 10
Does that sound like something out of a science fiction movie, or a bad novel? Well, it’s what my 10-year-old said to me just last night. Wouldn’t it be great if your kid said the same things? With Mommy Dollars, your child might.
What I Learned in Elementary School
I do a lot of volunteering at my son’s elementary school. The first time I volunteered, I was asked to count the school’s money. No, not real U.S. Dollars, it was the paper money the school printed for the students to use. I stood in the work area counting thousands of dollars to determine which kids have saved enough money to get into the Rockefeller club.
The next year, I volunteered with my friend, Mr. Rowan, who manned the Student Store. That’s when I really found out about the money. The children are given dollars for good behavior, for doing extra chores around the school, for collecting donations, for being on time, for wearing the school’s uniform colors, etc. It is at the teacher’s discretion, so not all children have the same amounts of money. Some teachers are cheap and their kids get little, some are generous, and their kids can quickly afford the higher priced items. We sell pencils, pens, small notebooks, folders, and even sun visors, which the kids call “hats”.
Mr. Rowan’s daughter graduated last year, so this year, I’m all by myself. That’s okay, I like doing the Student Store, and actually have a lot of fun. I quite often have to count the 1st graders’ money, and 2nd graders at the beginning of the year, but I refuse to count 3rd graders. The kids are all well-behaved. I have volunteers to help me from Student Council, and of course, my son comes and helps during part of his own recess. He gets a small discount.
Help For a Misbehaving Child
When Spane was about 6 years old, I started having behavior problems with him. He was violent and almost uncontrollable. I took him to therapy, and the therapist suggested we do a reward chart. In his reward chart, Spane made a list of what he wanted as rewards, and he would have to get a certain number of good behavior stars to get the reward. Well, that sort of worked, except it was hard to keep track of his stars, and sometimes he wanted something that wasn’t on the chart, or he wanted to switch something. I knew I had to come up with a better way to reward him.
One day, when I was volunteering at Student Store, I thought, hey, why not use Mommy Dollars like school dollars. I could get play money and use it for Mommy Dollars. That sounded like a good idea, except that I would have to have a Mommy Store where he could spend his Mommy Dollars. I didn’t have anything to sell, and I didn’t want to have a huge inventory. Then, it came to me. Spane could accumulate the Mommy Dollars and exchange them for real dollars. The exchange rate is 20 MD for 1 USD, it’s about the same as the Czech Koruna, and not so bad as the Iranian Rial which was 24917.440000 to 1 on Thursday, February 13, 2014.
How I Pay
I have a dry erase calendar on the refrigerator, and that is where I keep track of how Spane is doing. When Spane has been acting nicely and respectfully all day, he gets a check mark. When he goes to bed on time, he gets a circle. Chores being done get a C. Each of those items earns one Mommy Buck. On Tuesdays, he has Bed Inspection, and if he passes, he gets a capital B, and that is worth 2 MD. On Thursdays, when the Thursday folder comes home from school, he gets Backpack Check, and if his backpack is neat and orderly, he gets a star, which is worth 2 MD. So, if he does everything right for one week, he has the potential to earn 25 MD in one week, $1.25 USD. However, should he misbehave he gets a big X, and all other positive marks are null and void for that day. Spane doesn’t always do his chores, and he doesn’t always go to bed on time, and sometimes he’s just not nice. He averages 15 MD a week. He gets paid on Wednesdays.
Good Feelings from Earning
Spane feels good about earning his money, he works hard for his money. He has to take out the trash on a regular basis, sweep the kitchen floor on Mondays, wipe the bathroom counter on Wednesdays, sweep the bedroom floor on Thursdays, and wash the bathtub on Saturdays. That’s not too bad for a 10-year-old, who lives with his mother in a small one bedroom apartment.
At Christmas time, I made an Advent calendar and stuffed the days with 5 Mommy Dollars. By December 25th, he had 105 MD, so with the MD he had already been saving, I wound up paying him $12.00 USD. He was able to get nice Christmas presents for his friends, and for his mother, me.
Mommy Dollars Reward Good Behavior
As with anything, consistency is important. Try to make sure you mark the calendar daily, and try to pay your child on time. Giving an X is not the same thing as being grounded. If your child does something you feel requires grounding, by all means do so. When Spane is grounded, he doesn’t earn any MD. If you feel a toy or treat needs to be taken away, do so. Just be consistent so your child knows what to expect.
So, if you are looking for a good reward system for your child, give the Mommy Dollar system a try. I think you and your child will like it!
I am not a trained professional. I am a single mother, who does web development. This will not work for every family, but it might work for yours. I know it works for mine.