Find the Currency…

Control the Child.  Or something like that.
 
My sister dropped this pearl of mommy wisdom on me recently.  She can’t take credit for it, though – Dr. Phil has it trademarked.  I haven’t watched Dr. Phil in years, so I have absolutely no clue if he has any other parenting gems.  But this one?  This one I like. 
 
Amelia and Ella will be two next month, and in typical two year-old fashion, they have started developing very strong (and sometimes odd) affinities toward certain objects, activities, food items, etc.  Say it with me, people: currency. 
 
Ella’s currency is easy – crackers, crackers, and more crackers.  Keep ‘em coming, baby.  She sat through an entire Easter Sunday Mass with nary a peep (if you discount the crunching noises).  I bring an entire box of crackers with me to the grocery store and sometimes throw another in the cart if things get hairy.  She just cannot get enough.  She is equally obsessed with her “Baby”, a raggedy blue bear that I only allow her to have at nap and bedtime.  I recently started using her love affair with Baby to my advantage.  You may recall my documented struggle with tooth brushing.  Struggle over.  If she refuses to allow me access to the cracker chompers, I threaten to put Baby in time-out.  Man, you should see how fast her little mouth opens! 

Amelia, on the other hand, is my horse of a different color.  She likes crackers but is no fiend like her sister.  And, while she does have a rather strong affinity toward her stuffed kitty, it’s not powerful enough to allow Mommy a decent whack at brushing her teeth.  Hrmph.  She is much more stubborn than Ella (no clue where she gets this), making it difficult for me to find her currency.  But, I think I may have found her one real motivator thus far – dessert.  I got her to eat a serious serving of asparagus tonight just by dangling 7 piddly M&Ms in front of her.  If she is acting up at dinnertime, I threaten to withhold her dessert privilege.  Works like a charm for the half hour that is dinnertime.  What of the other 11.5 waking hours, you ask?  Yep, I got nothin’. 

So, what about your kiddos?  Have you found their currency?  Do tell…

7 thoughts on “Find the Currency…

  1. While I do know that the “currency” method often works, and I have certain favorite stories that I save to tell my kids only if they will do something that needs to be done, it leaves the great question…How will this change as my child grows older? Are you teaching your children that a bribe is the only way to get them to do something they don’t want to do? Just a thought b/c eventually it can lead to bigger and greater “things” that you have to put before them, in order to have cooperation.

  2. Anonymous: I don’t know how old you are, but I’m only 19, so I remember my childhood (lol). When kids get older, they put “things” they want before the parents.

    You want to go sleep over at your BFF’s house tonight? Do your dishes.

    You want to join Soccer? Mow the lawn once a week all summer.

    You want to independence? Behave and do your chores.

    When they’re little, they don’t have things like that that they want– and if they did, they couldn’t really describe it to you. As toddlers, they want candy and to stay up past eight. As teenagers, they want their drivers license and a cell phone– or a social life, all of which can easily be taken away by the parent.

    I believe that all parents use bribes to get kids to do what they want them to do. It also teaches responsibility– do the things you have to do before the things you want to do.

    So, there’s your answer.
    .-= Deanna´s last blog ..Job Interview =-.

  3. I see nothing wrong with giving a toddler a beloved snack to get through the grocery store in peace. I do it all the time because the best time to go to the store is after the morning nap which is right before lunch and sometimes my list takes a little bit more time to get through than their tummies can handle, which is totally my fault. In those situations you need to give the kids some grace…and if that’s in a cracker, that’s easy enough!

    Granted, the currency might change as they get older, the author is posting about her infant/toddlers not older kids. Though I do not yet have older kids, I know it’s important to teach cooperation and give rewards/praise [appropriately] when they behave well. I’d love to hear some positive tips/experiences with toddlers and older kid as well.

  4. Our “currency” with your daughter at this moment is reading books. “Take you bath and don’t cry when I wash your hair and we will read a book.” “Pick up your toys and we will read a book.”

    With Jonathan, sometimes it works to let him have his favorite cloth (lovey), and sometimes fruit snacks do the trick.

    I must say, I never liked the idea of “bribery,” but as they get bigger and heavier and my back gets worse and worse, I am finding tactics to make life more peaceful for all, and sometimes lowering my standards of “a perfect mom” without compromising anyone’s health or safety, gets us all through the day!

  5. I don’t think that using “currency” is equivalent to bribery.

    “Lukie, first we take a bath, then we read the monkey book.”

    It reminds him that there is an order to things. Like Deanna stated, using their currency is a way to help them choose the things they need to do while reminding them that responsibility comes before things we enjoy.

    Bribing is “Gracie, come with Mommy for 5 more minutes and I’ll buy you a dolly!”

    Using their currency is “Gracie, Mommy has two more things to buy. First, we buy the shoes, then the book. When we are done, we’ll go back to the car and have a snack. Okay?” or
    “Lukie, I see you want to watch the elephant movie. Okay, first we clean up the mess you made and then we can watch the movie.”

    Not bribing. Nope.
    .-= Jennifer´s last blog ..First Day of Pre-School =-.

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