The Point System
There are two young men who enjoy the finer things in life, like: frequent trips to Burger King, movies, trips to GameStop, vacations, and ordering Pay Per View TV. Fancy, huh? These two do not have jobs anywhere in America. I, their devoted and nurturing mother, am a divorced educator who does not receive child support or alimony. Nor am I independently wealthy. So, how does one accommodate the spur of the moment needs of two growing boys? Should I ask a friend for $ 40 to make ends meet until my next paycheck? Should I apply for a loan from the bank of Mom and Dad? No, that is not always going to be sufficient. What I can do is develop a system to help me and them. I can structure in my budget ways to accommodate entertainment needs for them both; however, they must earn the things they crave by being responsible for completing tasks that build their own sense of independence, maturity, and development.
First, we make a schedule. I learned this from watching Super Nanny on TV. A posted schedule provides both young men with a visual of the tasks that must be completed on the daily basis in order for us to be successful as a family unit. We need to live in a clean and organized environment. I can not be the only one to make sure these things are done. Everyone needs to have chores to build responsibility and to help keep this ship a float. Most importantly, they must have time to study, eat balanced meals, and rest. So, on the schedule the Gents can see what they need to be doing and how long they have to complete each task. As they complete each task they earn a point.
Next, the point system. For each completed task the Gents earn a point. Each day has an automatic 5 point opportunity (consisting of daily chores, study time, practice time, homework completion, and organization). With the completion of additional chores each of the Gents has an opportunity to build their points (while sneaky Mom gets housekeeping done on the cheap). Once they have received a certain number of points the gift cards start flowing. I can purchase a few gift cards with money from my budget designated for entertainment. I will save money and have more left over in my emergency fund for unexpected expenditures. For example: for 200 points earned, a $20 Burger King Gift Card; for 250 points earned, a $30 gift card to Game Stop; for 300 points earned, a trip to the Movies, Arcade, and dinner at a restaurant of their choice; for 1000 points earned, drum roll please, a trip to Disney, Bush Gardens, or Universal Studios (I can save for this out of a different area of my budget, uh, there aren’t gift cards for this).
Some don’t like to use incentives to motivate however; children need to understand that NOTHING in life is free. Benefits are earned. I work very hard to provide for them, I do not have disposable income to spend on things that are nonessential to their needs, growth, and development. While I would like to be able to do that, I can not. Hopefully, from this they will develop a greater sense of independence, an intrinsic motivational cue to work for things that they want, and understand that their needs must be met first. They need to be healthy, educated, responsible, mature and prepared for challenges they will surely face as men. Since they do not have a man in the home to emulate, all I can do is provide them with opportunities to create themselves into the type of men they aspire to become.