Dear Grandparenting: It doesn’t take much takes for my grandchildren to get on my nerves. I try to keep them in their place but I’m dealing with three kids ages five, seven and eight. It is impossible to keep the lid on long.
Here is my solution. I pay them to be good. For each 30 minutes of peace and quiet they get another $1 bill. For each disturbance I subtract $1 from what they’ve “earned.”
I am the judge and jury. There is no negotiating. So far so good, at least for the last three visits. A mere $26 dollars is a cheap price for peace and quiet.
Forget about all this fancy mumbo jumbo talk people use on grandchildren to get them to behave. I buy it. What do you think of that? Sylvia French, Columbus, Ohio
Dear Sylvia: That’s a bribe in our book, but don’t we all play that game in some way, shape or form? Maybe we don’t outright buy their compliance, but we certainly incentivize it through different types of reward and punishment.
The problem with monetary rewards is that they must escalate to keep working. And all that quiet time is missed opportunity to engage your grandchildren and develop those relationships.
According to psychologists, all behavior is motivated by intrinsic and extrinsic rewards. Extrinsic motivators are external forces like money, praise and punishment.
Intrinsic rewards are positive emotions that arise from within, and deliver the best results, especially long-term, because they provide a sense of meaning, belonging or accomplishment.
Young children require external adult regulation to learn right from wrong and become civilized, but unless they are internally motivated to behave, no amount of money will keep them in line.
While you deal out the dough, we hope other family members instill the makings of good personal value systems. Sooner or later, your grandchildren need learn the social skills that make the world go around.
Grand remark of the week
Mac Williams of Marshall, Michigan reports that he had a great weekend getting more acquainted with grandson Trevor, 7, visiting from Massachusetts.
After they talked and hung around for most of the day, Mac said Trevor paid him the “supreme compliment. My grandson told me he wish he’d gotten to know me sooner.”
Dee and Tom, married more than 50 years, have eight grandchildren. Together with Key, they welcome questions, suggestions and Grand Remarks of the Week. Send to P.O. Box 27454, Towson, MD, 21285. Call 410-963-4426.