As my wife and I grew up, we each had parents who raised us as responsible people who can take care of ourselves. They also made sure that we respected and obeyed all in authority over us. They disciplined us when we deserved it, but they also rewarded us when we did well. As parents, we now reward our twelve-year-old son in much the same manner and for various reasons. These reasons include maintaining high grades, doing extra chores, doing more than expected, and behaving properly in school. We enjoy giving our son his favorite rewards when he earns them.
Quite often, our son does not know right away what he would like to have. Therefore, a gift card gives him the opportunity to delay his decision and then get the item he eventually chooses when he is ready for it. For example, a gift card to Target lets him get new baseball cards or a membership card to his favorite Websites. He may also choose a gift card for I-Tunes. With this, he can buy his own songs or application for his IPod (all of which we must approve). If nothing else looks enticing, then a gift card to his favorite store, GameStop, will always make him happy.
Specific video game
Our son loves video games. We make sure that he does not spend all of his time playing video games so he can stay active, but he does get some time to play them. He will watch television commercials and his favorite Websites to see when new games come out, and when something looks appealing, he will ask for it as his next reward. We prefer to rent a game to preview it for content and interest before buying it. If the game is within our specified price range and earns our approval, then we will buy it. Any extra cost comes from his own wallet. We encourage trading in old games that he no longer plays and buying a pre-owned version to help reduce the cost of the new game.
Who does not like having a few extra dollars? Our son often has some large prize in mind, and he knows that he must save his money. We have taught him how to save and spend it wisely. For example, when he wanted a Nintendo 3DS, we made him earn and save his own money for it. He saved his weekly allowance from chores and combined it with gift cards and trade-ins so he could purchase the machine himself. We always discuss money management when he wants to make a large purchase and remind him that once he spends the money, it is gone and he must start over. Occasionally as a reward, we will give him extra money for the week so he can start or continue his savings.
Choosing a family activity
Quite often, our son would prefer to spend time with Mom and Dad over receiving a material reward. Naturally, this makes us very happy. In this case, we allow him to choose the activity. He loves Dave and Busters and the local water parks or just going to the neighborhood park and throwing the football or Frisbee. He will also ask for dinner at his favorite restaurant, and as long as he has eaten healthy all week, we will let him have pizza or another favorite food. We always allow him to choose one of our vacation activities when we travel so he feels like his opinions matter.
Rewards will not always last
We will often find other ways to reward our son as a means of teaching him to do well and giving him incentive to do so. As he grows, he will discover that he needs to do well just because those in charge will expect it and not necessarily give extra rewards. We will gradually wean him off of extra rewards. However, while is still young, we will continue to emphasize the importance of always doing his best. Our parents expected it from us, and we expect it form our son as well.
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Monitoring our son’s video games: A dad’s perspective
I enjoy coaching my son: A dad’s perspective
Consulting each other in parenting decisions: A dad’s perspective