Your child’s currency isn’t how much pocket money they get, or what’s in their KiwiSaver account. Rather, it is the thing or things which they prize most of all. It’s a bargaining chip that you can use to ‘direct’ the way things happen, particularly what your child does or doesn’t do.
You child’s currency is the thing they are willing to exchange or not exchange things or actions for. For example, access to the iPad, watching TV, eating dessert after tea (which you’ve most probably already used as a currency anyhow) or being able to play outside. It’s identifying this most important item or activity that many parents find difficult. That’s because as an adult, you have different things that you value or are important to you. Going to bed early is a win for you, for instance!
We’re going to walk you through the process of identifying what your child’s currency is and how you can use it to your (did we say that) family’s advantage.
How to Identify Your Child’s Currency
Here you need to put your detective hat on. Spend some time observing what things your child likes to play with. What types of things do they talk with you or their friends about? How irritated do they get when they are unable to do something specific? It’s about noticing what motivates them to do things, or not do things as the case may be.
Chances are you’ll already have an idea of what their currency is, but before you get too happy, you may be wrong. We suggest watching your child closely for a while in regards to your currency hunch just to double-check. If you’re right about it, cool. If not, keep looking. Remember though that a child’s currency can change over time. What works today may not next week.
Using Your New Found Currency As A Tool
When we say tool, we may or may not be referring to it as a bribe/reward/punishment/consequence or any other word, so we’ll stick with a tool. More previously, parenting tool. By knowing their currency, you can use it to praise good behaviour and limit the not so good. For example:
- if you clean your teeth and get into your pyjamas when I ask, you can have the iPad for 10 minutes
- make your bed every morning this week and we’ll head out on a bike ride in the weekend
- that’s sad you hit your brother; your choice means you’ve lost the chance to watch Paw Patrol this afternoon
- if you eat all your vegetables, you get dessert – ha, we just couldn’t not have this here!
If I could sum things up, it would be to first identify exactly what their currency is, and second, keep an eye out for when it changes. Good luck!