Name: margalit
Location: Massachusetts, United States Professional writer, educational advocate, opinionated ultra liberal mother of 18 year old twins, living life in the slow lane due to hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, congestive heart failure, and diabetes.

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Wednesday, October 08, 2008

WFMW: Rewards for Teens

Reward charts never worked when my kids were little. I tried a lot of things, but when you have extremely competitive twins, they spend more time trying to sabotage each other than they do trying to earn rewards. For example, we got poker chips and when they did something on their charts, a chip would plop into their jars. But they soon figured out that swiping each other's chips would make their own jar fuller. It just didn't work for us, although I do know it works for many other families.

Recently, our family therapist suggested a rewards chart and our entire family just collapsed into an uproar. 'NO WAY' we all said. But she came up with something that, when we discussed it, seems to be working for one of the two kids.

The rewards are, first of all, monetary. Teenagers LOVE money.
The rewards some from a third party. In our case, the therapist, but you could have a friend or relative supervise.
Each kid works on their own issue. They aren't competing in any way.
Each kid is monitored by a parent, but the parent isn't involved in any way other than noting whether the agreed task is being done.
Each kid has a signed contract with the supervisor.
Each contract has a percentage of times the task is done.

For example, my son's issue he wanted to work on was bringing the dirty dishes down from his room. He tends to make food and eat upstairs. The dishes often sit up there until I figure out that we have no plates, bowls, or glasses left. He drew up a contract saying that he would bring down his dishes 90% of the time, and after a month, we would re-evaluate for his reward.

He failed miserably. He didn't even make it a week. He has no motivation, not even money.

But his sister... wow. She LOVES the money and she likes the challenge of proving that she can change her patterns. Her deal was for laundry, and so far she's been keeping up without a nasty mouth. She's going to earn her reward, and she's going to get into the habit of doing her laundry twice a week. Miraculous.

So, parents of teens. These contracts will work with a lot of kids. Try and see if it will work for your teen.

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Blogger Lisa said...

Interesting. Rewards just taught my son that good behavior can be bought. I wonder with a 3rd party--I'll consider it.

8/10/08 12:37 PM  

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