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Leverage: Incentives and Consequences

December 4th, 2012 - Category: General Parenting

Believe it or not, even with all of your good intentions, your child’s chores won’t get done, unless you have a willing child.  Sometimes getting things done takes leverage.  If you can find what your child values, you can use it as an incentive or a consequence (also know as bribes or threats, but we won’t call them that today) to get the results you want.

Incentives:  Encourage your children to finish their chores by linking an incentive to it.  Linking the completion of chores to something real and desirable to your child is the key.  Where possible you should choose incentives that are appropriate to the chore.  It’s amazing what a child can do when they know what the prize is in the end.

Consequences:  Just like giving them an incentive to get the job done, you can also create a consequence for a job done poorly, not on time, or not done at all.  But be careful, if you state a consequence you have to follow through.  Sometimes it is best to have your child help you when coming up with consequences.  The beauty of having a predetermined consequence is that: 1. You don’t have to come up with something on the fly, and 2. There is less arguing.  When a consequence is warranted, the child knows what it will be, even before the offense happens.

Now to determine what your child will work for.  Here are some ideas of things you may be able to use as leverage for your child.

  • Things – You can give or take away things that they enjoy.  Some examples may be electronics, toys, clothing, or books.
  • Privileges – You can give or take away activities like dance class or karate lessons.  You can give or take away time.  Time with friends, time with a favorite family member, time on the computer or TV, or an adjusted bedtime.  Other privileges may include using the car or going out on Friday night, for older kids.  Or, for younger kids, maybe going to the park or their favorite dinner.
  • Food – Speaking of dinner.  We can use food as a leverage starting at a very early age.  Just this morning I told my 18 month old, “Eat your banana, and then you can go play outside.”   Food can be used as a motivator when you don’t get to eat dinner until your homework or your chores are done.
  • Money – Besides the obvious allowance, or getting paid for finished chores, find different ways to use money.  Have them pay you if you have to go into their room to find something they may have lost.  Moms x-ray vision can pay off!  Have them pay you for chores not done.  Or have them pay to get items out of “jail” that you have picked up.

Tailoring incentives and consequences around what is important to your child can take some time.  If you notify your child of an incentive or a consequence and nothing happens, you picked the wrong item to leverage with.  Keep trying until you find something that works.  And then let us here at MyJobChart.com know what works for you.  We are always anxious to hear what parenting strategies work in your home.

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