Let’s face it…
Having your kids home for the summer can be REALLY scary. They get “bored” (it took my seven year old all of 26 minutes to announce this last week), they squabble, they make messes… please tell me my kids aren’t the only ones who do these things!?! Last summer I was all-too-thrilled to see the end of August come and get them back into their lovely little classrooms for the next nine months. I felt terribly guilty about it; however, it had been, in all honesty, a tough summer and I had reached my limit with all the whining and quarreling.
A few weeks ago, with a new summer looming just around the corner, I began asking around to see if anyone had any ideas for how to make this summer a better one. Luckily, my sister had been chatting with her school’s social worker about the exact same thing, and the social worker suggested putting together some kind of “ticket system” with positive reinforcements built in.
Well, guess what?!? It WORKS!!! We are in week three of our little “program” and I am enjoying my kids to pieces… they are cleaning up after themselves, sweeping the floor, sharing, bringing in groceries, helping each other, and (get this) DOING LAUNDRY!!! Hehe. : ) Apparently there’s very little kids can’t do when they’re armed with a good attitude. None of this is to say that my kids are perfect… far from it! But we’ve seen *such* a difference in their behavior and happiness these past few weeks that I thought it was worth throwing out there for any other panic-stricken parents on the verge of another summer vacation…
So how does it work, you ask?!? Ok, here’s how we’ve done it:
I designed some cute “tickets” and “passes”… I’m linking the printable versions at the bottom of this post in case you want to try it. Then we got each of them a box, took them to the Target dollar section, and let them each pick out ten toys. Yes, TEN toys. That’s thirty bucks for a happy summer. We looked a little nutsy in the checkout line, but who really cares, right?!? When we got home, we had the kids each decorate their box and put all of their new toys inside. But the best part is… they toys aren’t the only prizes! I also created some “passes” that are good for other experiences, including ice cream dates (only two of those passes each… one with mom and one with dad!), screen time, post-bedtime fun… you get the idea.
Their boxes are filled with rewards of all kinds, but they have to earn five tickets to choose something from their box.
Simple? Yup. But so darn effective!
How does one justify such blatant bribery? Well… sometimes we all need a little motivation to learn new habits, right? As I was tucking Annie, our seven-year-old, into bed last week, she said to me, “Mom… I had a really happy day. And I think it was because I was really nice to everyone!”
Ding ding ding! Correct, sweet girl!
Sometimes you just need a few tickets to get you going in the right direction, eh?
Click the images below to link to the downloads:
If you’re thinking about trying something like this, here are a few thoughts / tips / ideas that we’ve found helpful:
1) I made it clear to them at the beginning that they won’t be getting a ticket for every single good thing they do… but I’m ALWAYS watching… : )
2) I printed off 5 sheets of tickets and cut them up right at the start. Then I put a bunch in my wallet, some in a kitchen drawer, some upstairs, and some in Jonathan’s wallet. Cause you never know when you’re gonna need a ticket!
3) When they seem to be struggling a bit every now and then, I’ll just let my kids know that it’s “double ticket time” for the next hour and they whip themselves right back into shape. And they’re happier, too.
4) We’ve found that the passes are a much bigger hit than the toys… so cute! They especially love the 30 minutes of post-bedtime fun, which is spent with either Jonathan or I for some one-on-one time.
5) Try asking your kids if they have any ideas for passes… you might be surprised at their answers!