Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Capitalism, it's the new Black... for Preschoolers.

We've recently begun a new system. It's called The Point System Challenge. Both BOY & GIRL have the ability to earn points for good behavior and when they accrue 30 points they get to pick out a small prize at the toy store. Capitalism is all the rage here at Casa de Motherscribe. Yes, the system is working and my children are fast becoming Venture Capitalists. Like Wall Street we have good days and bad days. The Motherscribe Industrial Marketplace plunged 10 points this morning....This afternoon the market climbed 10 points to finish with 18 marbles in the container. It's all about marbles and plastic containers. BOY is now going to bed by himself most nights and sleeping through the night without puttering into our bedroom some of the time. This is MAJOR NEWS. The Marketplace is rallying! And...yes, it speaks to my brilliance, if I may brag. After all, tomorrow is another day and the victory will be long gone. So, let me smirk for a day. A little ingenuity, a few marbles and recyclable plastic containers make our world go round.

BOY was always the perfect sleeper. As a baby he took 2 naps, later 1 nap, and always slept through the night after he was 6 months old. Several months ago, BOY started "needing" us to sit/lay down/fall asleep with him at bedtime. In the beginning he was legitimately scared, and I realize that this is a very common developmental stage, but after a few months it became a routine and BOY was no longer truly scared. We tried a night light. "Mommy, what are those SCARY shadows?!" We tried threatening jail time. That didn't work. Yes, I am kidding. Kind of. I got to my breaking point a couple of weeks ago. On average I was spending 30-45 minutes with him in his room at night. I was feeling angry, resentful and mad at him when I was really angry with myself for creating this mess. I am the parent after all. Just WHO is in charge here? Apparently, for a while, him!

So we have come up with The Point System Challenge...

Challenge #1 is for BOY to stay in his bed. We tuck him in, chat for a few minutes, give hugs and kisses and leave the room. He is not to get up and come out of his room or call for us to come back into his room. He is to go to sleep.

Challenge # 2 is for BOY to sleep through the night without appearing as The BOY who is SCARED in our room at 2, 3 or 4am. Yes, it has sometimes been 3 times a night and yes, we have been sleep deprived for months. In the last couple of months he's been getting up just once a night for the most part. Sometimes twice. So, the goal is for him to sleep through the night. At 4 1/2 years old! What a concept!!

BOY can earn 5 points for staying in his room at bedtime. If he comes out once, he loses 2 points and just earns 3 points. If he comes out twice, he doesn't earn any points or ZERO points. BOY can earn 5 points if he sleeps through the night. If he wakes up once and comes into our room, he loses 2 points. If he comes into our room more than once he earns ZERO points. We've been doing The Point System Challenge for almost 2 weeks now and it is working really well. The goal is to earn 10 points per night. Some nights he earns 10, more nights he earns 6-8 points, and sometimes ZERO points.

Not to miss out on anything, GIRL wanted in on the action. She is Market Savvy and saw the payoff prize or the end result - 30 points = pick out a toy. She's no novice on the Motherscribe Industrial Marketplace Express. So, we came up with two challenges for GIRL. All things being equal...right.

Challenge #1: If GIRL goes to bed without objections she can earn 5 points. If she starts to make a protest and then readjusts her attitude quickly and goes to bed, she loses 2 points for bad attitude, but earns 3 points for self-correcting it. If she raises a stink, she earns ZERO points.

Challenge #2: GIRL must get up and get dressed right away in the morning. No dilly dallying. If she succeeds, she earns 5 points. If she protests initially, but then turns it around, she can earn 3 points. If she refuses to comply, she gets ZERO points and we all can order pizza for breakfast and kick back because it is going to be a long ass road to dressdom and you better pack earplugs.

If you are still reading along and your head isn't spinning with numerals, please say...Thank you for that math lesson, JCK.

So far The Point System Challenge appears to be working overall. Once the 30 points are earned, we go back to ZERO and start the challenge again. We use colored marbles for the points and their favorite part of the "game" is counting out the marbles that they've earned. It helps to have them do it together so that they are also aware of the other person's point total. Encouraging sibling rivalry and all... Competition in the home place! Whoop! Whoop!

Last week BOY achieved 30 marbles and he got to pick out a toy. And Saturday, with her 30 points, it was GIRL's day to pick something out.'s the new Preschoolers Black. Hopefully we won't be in the red soon with additional purchases. A few marbles and a couple of plastic containers. Who knew?

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  1. I need to work out something like that for my kids. Bedtime isn't usually a problem, but at naptime I have to sit in their room and read until they fall asleep or they will get out of bed. But mainly the problem is getting them to listen to me. I tell them to do anything and they blatantly ignore me. So maybe something like this might be the trick.

  2. Loved this post!

    Once they get the bed routing down, you can implement inflation, where the cost of a toy is tied to the price of oil, so every time the price of oil goes up by a dollar, the cost of a toy increases by one marble.

    To earn a new toy in these inflationary times, Boy and Girl can start doing chores to earn extra points....and suddenly JCK doesn't have to worry about picking up those toys in the playroom, or mopping the kitchen for that matter.....I love capitalism...

  3. I'm telling you your children are going to be economists! Brilliant.

    i've set up a similar system for my office time this summer. If they come in and I'm on the phone and they are quiet they get a sticker. If they are not quiet they get a sticker pulled. 30 stickers they get a Webkinz.

    It's working beautifully!

  4. I like it. We seriously need to do something like this as well. . . last night I woke up to go to the bathroom and I realized I had been sleeping on SIX INCHES of bed. No wonder my arm was totally asleep. This madness has just got to stop, and keeping it fun and positive sounds like the best way to do it.

    And by the way, thanks for your sweet comments. Don't worry. I'll be okay.

  5. Couple of things...One, I LOVE marbles, so I already love that idea. Two, there is NO WAY I would be able to remember all that early in the morning or in the middle of the night. I would be the one losing my marbles...all of them. Three, I don't want to be a killjoy here, but at some point you are going to be buying two toys every 3 days isn't that correct? Your husband might need a second job.

  6. Wow, you are generous with the points. I would have thought it'd be 3 points possible and all. But you're clearly working with multiples that get you to 30 evenly and whatnot so you're way up on me. Sounds like a very cool game and now they're going to be ahead when they start learning about money and costs of things and everything, too.

  7. Back in the day, we used to call this productive bribery...I applaud your reinvention of a time honored wheel. Wonderful post.

  8. Beautiful system! Especially since it seems to be working.

    We have Girl Who's Scared at our house. I haven't tried (healthy) bribery lately, but maybe I should.

  9. this like, involves math or something

  10. I just saw a "chore chart" somewhere else, I can't remember where. But The Girl has been lobbying hard for a guinea pig and I told her that we were going to implement some sort of similar system. Problem is I have no artistic skills and the charts I've tried to make are pathetic...maybe the marbles are better idea. You'll give an update a few more weeks in, right?

  11. Well done - I award you ten marbles for truly excellent blogging!

    Getting our No 2 to go to bed was a nightmare - and is now family legend....I think I clung to sanity by a thread!
    All is well now - she reads to herself and stays put - and I get to feel like I can have a conversation with another grown up!
    Ps - can't believe they pinch your oranges and lemons...shall I send the Hound over?

  12. GREAT plan. I'm going to tuck this away in my brain for a few years from now when I need it...because I'm sure I'll need it.

    And aren't you looking forward to BlogHer b/c you'll get a few nights of uninterrupted sleep? :0)

  13. We bought Hailey this circus thing that lights up and sings and moves and we leave it on for her at night only if she stays in bed.

    TOTALLY works.



    Never mind.

  14. Don't have bedtime issues with mine - but I could totally use a system like this once school starts...


  15. Wow, you are a terrific writer and math whiz. Woohoo! good luck with your plan, hope it keeps working for you.

  16. Neither of mine have ever slept worth crap. The Queen was worse than DeBoy. He was actually a decent sleeper as a baby (and by decent, I considered 4 hours at once to be decent, since she was over a year old before she slept longer than 2 hours at once).
    Now the routine is 3 books then to sleep - she gets to pick. This worked ok, but lately she "remembers" she has to go to the potty, and that sort of thing. So far DeBoy has sort of followed this routine as well. Neither of them are ready to go to sleep before 9:30 and if he takes a nap I can count on him being awake until 11. She *usually* sleeps through the night now (at 4 1/2), unless she wets the bed. He has slept through the night once, about 3 weeks ago, but since he didn't actually go to sleep until 12:30 I'm not sure it counts.

    This system sounds excellent, but I think I'll implement it to keep them from picking at each other every blessed minute of the day.

  17. Thank goodness you have found something that works. I have been inspired to write about our bedtime "reward" system after reading this. I am not as nice. Maybe I shouldn't print it! haha

  18. oh yes I'm all for bribery. I never had any trouble with mine sleepwise (I think I am just SO crabby if they disturb me after their designated bedtime that they just DON'T)- but when they were little I bribed them to do all sorts. Potty training was the big one - they were all out of nappies before 2 cos I hated nappies and was prepared to invest heavily in chocolates to convince them that the potty was a good place. They were easily convinced!!!

    Hope it all works. sleep deprivation is horrid.

  19. We started using an allowance with our girls...boy soon to follow. We got the basic plan from a book called "A Penny Saved" by Neale S. Godfrey. They are paid for work done, only after non paid chores are accomplished. They get paid by their age and at "school age" begin paying Taxes (15%) and Tithing (10%) which leaves 75% which we split three ways: Long Term savings (college fund) Med term savings (save up 3-4 weeks for something special) Quick cash can be used anytime, but they can't ask me to buy them toys/candy...if they have the money, they can spend their own!
    It's amazing the stuff they pass on because they don't want to spend their own money. Tax money can be used to order pizza or Chinese or put to use supporting the pets. Also, the dishes are done without arguement every night and my kitchen floor gets swept all the time...oh, and it gives me more time to Blog!
    HooRay for capitalism!!!
    Blessings, EJT

  20. I love this system. We have been flondering on various systems but I think I amy be printing yours out for a new guideline. We need more capitalists ;)

  21. It's a good system for getting a habit started. Just be careful not to use it for everything. I've met 14 year olds who won't do anything until the hear what the payoff is!

    I used a different (probably not sanctioned by any parenting experts) of being a total bitch when someone got out of bed. I need me a decent night's sleep in the worst way!

  22. You're one smart cookie. This is modern day bribery and I'm totally lovin it. Hope it works - which it of course WILL.

  23. I love you and I'm going to send you chocolate!! I have been struggling to remember some sort of marble-based Pavlovian point system my cousin had used -- And you. just. gave. it. to me!!

    Nothing's working right now for RC - the boy is firmly in control at the moment - and I need to find something of interest that will help me control him.

  24. brilliant is right! hope this keeps working for ya. I'm all for earning goodies for desirable behavior. please keep us posted.

  25. Wow. Now I'm scared. I'm barely making it through the 6 month old crying it out. Okay. I'm SO not making it...more like, waiting 1/2 hour at most (or, until the crying becomes screaming), and then going to comfort. I'm also scared because I hate math.


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