August 31, 2010


Have you ever noticed that most rewards are "stuff"?  Little junky toys from the Dollar Store, a certificate that will get crumpled, some knick-knack you have to find a place for and then dust for eternity.  Or food - cookies, candy, gum, doughnuts.  "You did a good job, now eat something really bad for you."

As I've worked on de-cluttering my home (and gotten rid of 75% of their toys) I'm less and less inclined to bring junk back into the house.  And we're working really hard on eating more wholesome foods so many "treats" are out.

Top this with the fact that we're really buckling down on learning chores, skills and responsibilities and my children can be heard to say, "What will I get?  What will my reward be?"  Oh, what an awful mother I am to have trained them thus!

I've been trying to find ways to motivate and encourage these new behaviors, without undermining the cleanliness of the home and health of the family.

Thus far we've used the Bean Jar and warm "thank yous."  We try to take the time to inspect the job done and provide lots of compliments and meaningful praise (not just "good job").  I'm also trying to give them an inner sense of satisfaction in that they are contributing to the peace of our home and helping to create Zion.  They don't really care about that though.  I'm also trying to show them the practical side of doing their work daily (and cheerfully) - they have more free time!  It took them 15 minutes today to pick up the play room, dust everything including the cleaning fan, and vacuum.  It used to take an hour or two.  They sort of get this, but it's still not enough for them.

I'm wondering if you all have any great ideas on how to reward, motivate, encourage, etc in meaningful ways.  Things that will teach, not just provide a temporary happiness.  Ways to find the deeper meaning in work and service and order.


  1. Yes, why is it that we (and our society) give them junk toys and junk food? We've distracted them away from the real meaning of serving others and serving in the family. Grr....Satan is so sneaky!

    The Bean Jar is working out well enough for us. We haven't even filled it all the way yet. This week though after a year and half and it will finally be filled. We are going roller skating.

    It is hard to train them back to doing things just because they want to be good human beings. Perhaps Charlotte Mason has some good words for us in one of her books. Wasn't one called "character training?"

    I think awareness is the first step to repenting! : ) So now we realize we give the junk we can at least stop and hope we have some other ideas later.

    There is always saddness when we do this though for the littles isn't there?

  2. You should read "Punished by Rewards" by Alfie Kohn. It's ll about this culture of expectation we've created with our kids. My husband & I are both products of that culture so we're having to teach ourselves as well. We've opted for a "natural consequences/natural rewards" approach. When they get their work done, mom has time to teach/play with them & work can be it's own reward etc. It takes time, but they pick up on it. This works while they're young, but when they're older I'm sure it's harder. We made a list of rules for our son and helped him decide the consequences if he didn't do them and that helped. Some days they'll choose consequences instead of rewards just like the rest of us. Those days are hard :) Good luck!

  3. Yep I've caught my self a few times over the last few months realizing I don't have items to offer as a reward since we don't buy candy or junky toys, or really toys in general anymore. So things become a matter of getting mom's energy up or strengthening our family. It is awesome!