A recent interaction with my three-year-old started like this:
Buddy: Mommy, I really want to buy some new cars. I want Taco Mater and Flo.
Me: Well, you need to earn some money to buy those things.
Buddy: I have GOLD, mom! (He rushed to a pirate’s booty bag he brought home from school and produces 3 gold coins.)
Me: Honey, that is pirate’s gold. We need American money to shop at stores around here.
Buddy: Nah. I’d like to use my pirate’s gold.
The rest of the day, Buddy was being a bit of a terror. When my husband came home, I relayed to him the pirate’s money conversation. In his infinite wisdom, he said, “Well, maybe that will work as an incentive. Nothing else seems to. Let’s see if he will behave and help out to earn money.”
We decided to implement my husband’s strategy after Buddy’s nap. As a result we had a quiet dinner and a cleaning spree in the playroom. Total out-of-pocket cost? Three cents. Yep, you heard that right. (Only 3 more years of chores until he can afford his cars.)
Note: We helped him buy his cars a few weeks after he had earned “money” by exhibiting good behavior and responsibility. We didn’t actually expect our child to earn the $12 needed to purchase these cars! However, the concrete reward of money works for now, and we will play along. Who doesn’t want to collect a pirate’s booty?