Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Kids, Like Adults, Misunderstand Inflation

So, in an attempt to extort better behavior from our S-going on 16-year old, we have copied a little trick from the friends we just visited in Burlington. Not that it's rocket science, and not that we've not tried similar tools, it's just that we are motivated again. Anyway, it is a weekly chart, noting all required activities on the upper columns with expectations about behavior and point values on the rows. These include things like "Have a positive attitude" (read: no complaining) or "Get Dressed, Brush Hair and Teeth" in the morning, and finally "Exhibit great manners during mealtimes."

On a daily basis she can earn points (or lose points) through her behavior (emphasize: her choices).

The chart also places values on various daily priviledges and bigger ones that need to be earned over time.

Tonight we sat down and talked as a family about the expectations in the rows, their point values and the values of the priviledges that she can earn. BioMom and I nodded in agreement when the SYO initially started to place values on the activities (12 points, for example for keeping her room picked up). We winked at each other, in full knowledge that we would have the rewards reflect this inflation.

The SYO clearly understood the notion of valuing the points and their link to the rewards: But getting dressed is really hard with the zipper in the back of my jumper! It deserves a lot of points.

At that currency, we valued a sleepover at 1200 points. This was based on a weekly potential earning of 300 points. We figured that at her best behavior, she could only earn one sleepover per month (which is well beyond our usual schedule of one per three months).

The SYO was shocked: WHAAAT? 1200 points???

Me: Do you want me to lower all of the values so it won't seem so big?

SYO: Yea!

I lowered all of the points so that now, a sleepover was valued at 300 points and her maximum earnings for any given event is 2 points.

Sure, the rewards cost less, but her wages fell accordingly.

1 comment:

A.S. said...

Haha, this is really funny... but having an economist as a parent, I bet she will get the tricks quite soon :-)

I don't remember whether I have commented here before, but I have been lurking since quite a few months now.