As I’ve mentioned here on numerous occasions, I am the proud mother of one beautiful daughter. She’s smart and funny and creative and imaginative and talkative and lovable and all of the other wonderful adjectives that you can use to describe a child. And she really is all of those. I’m blessed to have her. Except there’s one little problem.
That child has the biggest attitude problem I have ever encountered in my life.
Unfortunately, what happens when you raise a smart, fiercely independent little girl, you also have the side effect of a child who a) likes to think for herself; b) speaks her mind; and c) refuses to cooperate with any direction until she decides its time to cooperate. I get told no more often than you can imagine and, when I tell her something, I get the hands-on-the-hips, snotty voiced “Mommy, I know that already”. She corrects the way I speak (my New York accent is extremely difficult to get rid of and it drives her crazy). It makes my blood boil. Especially the “nos”. Over everything from cleaning up her toys to brushing her teeth to…well, you name it, my child will say no. In the meanest, rudest way possible. Even the simplest task request turns into an drama filled tantrum of epic proportions. And really, I’ve had it.
Taking away toys and TV time had no effect. Threatening to not take her to birthday parties didn’t work. Yelling, ignoring her, time outs…absolutely nothing was working to correct this child’s defiant and nasty behavior. So I decided to hit her where it really hurts. Her piggy bank.
Like her mommy, my daughter loves to read about money, learn about money and collecting loose change in her piggy bank provides her endless amounts of job. So, what better punishment than, when she tells me no over a simple (or complicated or whatever) direction or speaks to me in that horrible manner, to tell her she owes me a dime. Ten cents. Every time she says no. I think this is brilliant. Mainly because it’s the only punishment that means something to her.
We had the first installment of this punishment the other night. And she freaked out. Like, seriously freaked out. Which is good, because I know that it actually means something. I didn’t move right to taking the money. I told her to clean up her toys, she looked at me and, with all seriousness and in that voice, said “What do you think I’m doing, Mommy?” At first, I was shocked that she spoke to me like that (although, I was shocked that I was shocked). I gave her a warning about her attitude and let her know what would happen if it didn’t stop. And then…she did it again! So I let her know that she owed me ten cents. Then, I made her come into her room and watch me take it from her bank (I wanted her to understand that I was serious).
I will spare you the details of what happened next but let’s just say it was ugly (but, in a small victory for me, I didn’t have to listen to “Jake and The Neverland Pirates” for the next two days). However, the next morning she did say to me “Mommy, I’m going to make better choices today”, so that’s encouraging. We’ll see how this continues, and if need be, I’ll up the ante and take a quarter. I’m not above it.
As far as what I’m doing with the money, I’m putting it in a jar in the kitchen where she can see it. I want her to have a visual of all the time she’s said no and what it literally cost her. With my daughter, it’s easier to explain things that she can see instead of just giving an abstract concept (it’s also why we have a chore chart on the fridge and sort her toys in specific ways). Having it in the kitchen is also a reminder to her of her need to watch her mouth and her behavior.
I haven’t fully decided what I’m going to do with the money once her behavior improves enough that I can stop making her pay me. Knowing me, I’ll probably take her to lunch or buy her a book. But I know that the most practical choice is to put it back in her bank and add it to her savings. So maybe I should do that instead.
Dimes may be small but they are powerful. To a 5 year old, anyway.