Monday, July 20, 2015

"Hiring" My 4 Year Old

Why is Started
So Xander has been in a Lego phase for a while now (let's be honest, it'll probably be a 10+ year phase).  Anyway, it had gotten to the point where every time we went to the store, he wanted me to buy him some Legos.  Obviously, that wasn't happening.  I'd always tell him that we were choosing to spend our money on other things, like groceries, the house, bills, etc, but e struggled to understand why.  Therefore, in order to help him understand the value of money and really the concept of limited resources, I decided to start paying him.

I know a lot of people give their children chores, but I always felt things like setting the table, cleaning up after themselves, and occasional helping out are just part of contributing to the family.  I really did not want to pay him for these types of things, because I wanted to stress the value of working together as a family.  After some thought, I decided that I had always told him his job was to learn as much as he could.  He always called our should time his "work," so I decided that seemed like a logical place to start.
The Job
While we don't do as much "work" as we did during out Tot School time, there is still some work I'd like him to do frequently.  I decided he would get one sticker every day he did the following:

15 minutes of Splash Math or Matific
All About Spelling lesson

If he does his work 3 times in one week his gets paid $2
If he does it 5 days in a week, he gets paid $4 on Saturday
As a bonus, if he does it all 7 days, he gets paid $5

Here's his calendar for this month.  As you can see, he has had some weeks where he has done great.  Other weeks he hasn't done all that much work.  Usually, the math on the iPad is easy, but since he doesn't like to write, he doesn't always want to do the worksheets.  I encourage him, but do not make him do it every day.  At the end of a week where he didn't earn his $4, we discussed how sometimes we don't feel like doing the things we have to do, but we then do not get the reward.  I compared it to me not wanting to work on the house, but since I wanted to move in, I had to do it anyway.  I never did it angrily, because it is a good learning experience.  He is the one who has to wait longer for what he wants.
The Goal
To help him focus, I let him pick out the Lego set he really wanted.  He decided on Gorilla Grodd Goes Bananas.  I made a sign for him to hang above his desk, to help with encouragement.  While the sign does say $50, we also had to have the discussion about taxes.  I really liked that he had a rather expensive set as his goal.  

Long Term Planning
When he was really close to his goal, he saw the Lego Double-Decker Couch for $15 at the store.  It was really tempting for him to buy it, since he already had enough money.  Since we didn't have his money with us, he couldn't buy it that day.  We got to talk about long term goals and how sometimes you have to forego something you want in the moment to help you work towards a bigger goal.  While he considered going back to get it, he decided he wanted the Gorilla Grodd set more.  I was very proud of him, because that is something that can be really hard, even as an adult.

The other thing I liked about the process, was that although he still asked to look at Legos every time we went to the store, he no longer asked for them, or other toys.
A Few Extras
In addition to his "job," Xander was able to earn a dollar or two here and there over the last few months by helping with other tasks.  For example, he helped me move a bunch of landscaping stones at the new house.  These jobs weren't very often and not at his request.

Ultimately, he ended up saving up enough to get the set.  I was so proud of him when we went up to the register and he was able to pay with his own money he'd worked really hard to earn and save.  He was pretty proud also!
Showing off his new Invisible Jet. 
Looking Forward
So has he completely learned to plan ahead and save, of course not.  However, I have enjoyed teaching him about prioritizing and working hard for what he wants.  He has already decided that the next goal is the Black Manta Deep Sea Strike, and his new goal sign is made and hung above his desk. 

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