Thursday, January 22, 2009

How I stopped the bedtime battles for just 3 cents a night

Once in a great while I have to stop and give myself a great big parental pat on the back. This is one of those times. For months I've been driven slowly crazy by 4-year-old Z's ability to streeetch out bedtime with requests for fresh water and fixed blankets and the complaints that she's too hungry/lonely/not tired to sleep.

Finally, I called bullshit on her bullshit and instituted a financial incentive program that not only quiets our evenings (and my nerves), it teaches her a bit about saving money and delayed gratification.

Here's how it goes. Every night I place three pennies on Z's bedside table. (It is very important that she is in possession of the pennies; promised pennies do not work nearly so effectively.) Z loses a penny every time a parent has to come upstairs. Once in a while Z decides that a bedside visit from Mom or Dad is worth a penny, but she rarely gives up more than one cent a night.

In the morning Z places her pennies in her penny jar. She likes to take them out and count them up, knowing that when she gets around 70¢ she can buy a candy bar or some gummy bars and pay the cashier with her very own money.

We've been using the pennies for over two months now, and I'm honestly a little surprised it's still working so well. Hopefully I won't jinx myself by blogging about it!

Apparently pennies are a popular incentive. Check out Make and Take's Going Potty for Pennies.