Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Attempting to Exploit Potter Mania for Household Peace

Up until last week, we were a Three Strikes household . . . as in each kid could accrue up to three strikes a day for behaving badly. Upon receiving a third strike, a privilege would be revoked for the remainder of the day, say, watching TV, playing video games or going to a friend’s house. If the kid continued to misbehave, privileges would be revoked for the following day. (Frequently, though, I was a soft touch and allowed the kids to “earn away” the strike by being super good.)
However the Three Strikes technique had mixed results here in the Picket Fence Post household. Thus I decided to try a different tact this summer.

Image credit: Warner Brothers via Yahoo Kids
Capitalizing on the excitement regarding the release of the final Harry Potter film – and the fact that The Spouse and I are still doing our Harry Potter Reading Aloud Project with The Youngest Son – I went a different way. Instead of using the punitive Three Strikes system, I’ve decided to implement my own version of Hogwarts’ “House points” system. It works like this:

If a kid exhibits “good behavior” – a completely subjective determination made by either The Spouse or me – he or she gets a penny (or “House point”) deposited into his or her jar on the kitchen counter. Just like at Hogwarts, if someone behaves badly, he or she can lose one or more “House points.” At the end of the week, the child with the most House points gets to select a film for Family Movie Night. At the end of the month, the kid with the most points will be able to select a family activity (which needs parental approval) for a Saturday or a Sunday.

The first week yielded an absolute blizzard of good behavior. The kids were doing the dishes, taking out the trash, offering shoulder rubs, fetching my newspapers from the driveway, making me cups of tea. It was a pleasure to have such doting people around, even though I knew they were only in it for House points. But by the end of the week, The Girl realized that her twin brother had been outgunning her and protested, saying that kids shouldn’t be rewarded for “sucking up.” And she had a point.

Now, in its second week, there’s not so much a blizzard as there are intermittent flurries of good behavior, especially since we said that they shouldn’t overtly try to suck up to us. Plus, there’s been an uptick in the deduction of House points for bad behavior.

Maybe I should channel a bit more of the tough-minded albeit fair Professor McGonagall for the remainder of the summer.

Image credit: Warner Brothers via Yahoo Kids.

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