In the waiting room of my doctor’s office recently, I read a wonderful idea in Family Fun magazine, and put it to good use last week. The idea is:
- Put Dad’s face on a dollar bill (Do this for free by clicking here).
- Print out a whole bunch of them (We made ours closer to the size of Monopoly money, which fit perfectly in baby food jars).
- Use them as a rewards system for the kids.
We have used various rewards systems for several years, to grow the kids in responsibility and good character. At one time, we used dried beans in a jar. For a while, we used homemade “treasure cards.” Now, it’s the new and improved… Dad Dollars!
Each morning just before school begins, the children gather in the kitchen for their Dad Dollars. Up to three dollars are given, each for a different purpose:
- The Personal Responsibility Dollar: Every child who has completed morning habits and chores on time (see more on chores here, here, and here) gets this dollar. This dollar’s purpose is to promote diligence and promptness.
- The Teamwork Dollar: Currently, the three girls are a team and the three oldest boys are a team. I want the children to help remind each other, especially their youngest (and most forgetful) siblings, to do simple things like, “Don’t forget to pick up your clothes, so we can all get Dad Dollars!” If their entire team has completed all morning habits and chores, the entire team gets a teamwork dollar. This dollar’s purpose is to encourage the children to help each other out, and hold each other accountable.
- The Grace Dollar: This dollar is given no matter what; just because we love them and choose to give it. This dollar’s purpose is to teach the concept of grace, a gift, not earned. We hope this helps to cement their understanding of God’s grace and mercy (i.e. Titus 3:5, “He saved us, not because of the righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He washed away our sins, giving us a new birth and new life through the Holy Spirit.“)
Nearby is a list of rewards that the kids can purchase, and their cost in Dad Dollars. Our rewards include:
- 15 minutes of media (wii, computer fun, television, etc.) $1
- little candy (lollipop, etc.) $1
- big candy (candy bar, etc) $5
- long movie $5
- stay up 1/2 hour late $3
- 1 US Dollar & trip to Dollar Store $10
Most of the rewards are things that are no-cost or low-cost to mom and dad. This is deliberate, because we really couldn’t afford to maintain a system like this long-term if it wasn’t frugal! I also don’t want the kids to become materialistic; I want them to appreciate little things like a candy snack or video game time, rather than taking these things for granted.
If a child seems to be accumulating too many Dad Dollars, enough that their jar is stuffed or I am running out of dollars to give their siblings, they will be required to cash some of them in. We pay out 10 cents per Dad Dollar.
Some rewards cost more than the children typically earn in a single day. They can earn extra Dad Dollars by doing extra chores (agreed in advance by Mom and Dad), or they can save up for what they want. Either way, there are important lessons to be learned about saving, and about making wise choices about how they spend a limited supply of money, a lesson that everyone would do well to learn!