Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Tally Marks Are Worth More that Money!

Over the Thanksgiving Holiday I had had enough of the kids bad attitudes. I decided that December would be a Kindle Free month. At our house we have electronic days...Sunday, Tuesday and Friday are all electronic days. The kids pretty much have free reign in regards to using the TV, computer and Kindle on those days. The other days of the week are 90% of the time electronic free days unless we want to watch a football game or the kids are sick and we just need to veg out. It's really worked well in our house having those boundaries. Now instead of, "Mom can I go on the computer?" being asked 20 times a's "Mom what day is it?" If I say Monday they know it's not an electronic day and that's the end of it. 

Back to the no Kindles for December....I decided after a day or so that I would let them go on the Kindles in December, but only if they earned them. So I implemented Tally Marks! If you're kids are in public school and they are using Engage NY math curriculum then you'll know that a tally mark represents 10. 

I gave the kids three criteria. 

1. They listen and obey the first time we ask them to do something without whining or complaining. 
2. They do not interrupt us while we are talking...or anyone for that matter. 
3. They do not intentionally start conflict. 

If I ask them to do something and they do it right away and don't complain they get a tally mark. If they put their hand on my arm and wait for a break in the conversation they get a tally mark. If they don't get upset, but talk nicely to a sibling that has taken a toy and try to resolve the situation they get a tally mark. 

I am telling you the Tally Marks have been pure genius! We have tried other things for our kids like paying them actually money for doing .5 for every time I go into the bathroom and the toilet is flushed. Money doesn't really motivate my kids. They get paid for doing jobs around the house and they know it helps them be able to buy stuff, but if ask them if they'd like to make some money over 50% of the time they'll say no. Tally Marks are like gold to them. And the best part...they don't cost us anything. They are a pencil mark on a piece of paper! 

The rules for using Tally Marks are they can only be used on an actual electronic day. Other than that you can use all of them at once, or just use 10 minutes. That is another rule you have to use increments of 10 minutes. One of the kids will come to me and say I want to use 20 minutes on the Kindle so I'll set the timer and erase 2 Tally Marks. If they come back after 10 minutes saying they don't want to use the rest of their time I'll add a Tally Mark back on. 

I have the Tally Mark sheet just taped to the side of the kitchen cabinets right above the pencil holder so it's easy to add and remove them. I try to immediately award Tally Marks when I hear or see the kids doing something correctly. It's been such a gear changer in our house focusing on the positive rather than the negative. I think we can all get in a rut where we focus on the issues and not the successes. One thing that has taken some getting used to is Ella being such a cute suck up. She is so intentional to say, "Yes Mama!" when I ask her to do something it can sound kind of fake. At first it was bugging me because I know the only reason she's doing it is to get a Tally Mark, but then I realized WHO CARES! She is obeying me and she is going out of her way to help me. Yes she is being a bit over the top and she's always doing something and then asking if she gets a Tally Mark for it, but she's behaving well! Eventually the over-the-topness will ease up and she'll just settle into a more normal way of doing things. Plus like I said before....Tally Marks literally cost me nothing! 

As for when the kids do still make bad choices and don't obey the first time or cause conflict with each other we just simple say, "Oh man if you had obeyed mommy without complaining you would have gotten a Tally Mark". We just simply remind them that they missed out on something good. No lecturing them....just matter of fact. We do not really take away Tally Marks either. They have earned them so they are theirs. We have had a few occasions where the kids have been acting up and we have told them if they continue they will all lose a Tally Mark. That usually gets them to think twice about their actions. 

I know that the Tally Marks won't work forever, but they are working just fine right now so we are going to continue using them past December and for as long as they are effective!