Teach Kids Privileges can be Earned

Use Incentives to Get Kids to Complete Tasks

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Grandmothers sometimes really do know best. Grandma’s rule of discipline is a great way to teach kids that they have an option to earn their privileges. It teaches them to recognize that their behavior has consequences and that they have control over the outcome.

How Grandma’s Rule Works

Grandma’s rule means framing things for kids as an incentive rather than pointing out the negative consequence.

Instead of saying, “You can’t have dessert unless you eat everything on your plate,” Grandma’s rule means saying, “If you finish your dinner, you can have dessert.” It sounds nicer, gives kids extra motivation and can reduce arguing.

Instead of using a formal reward system, Grandma’s rule can be more of a spontaneous reminder of how their privileges are linked to their behavior. It gives kids a reminder, “What’s in this for me?” or “Why should I do what you ask?”

You don’t have to offer kids large, extravagant rewards in order to give them incentive. Instead, you can remind them that they can have their usual privileges when they’ve done what you have asked. If they chose not to do it, they don’t earn their privilege.

It can be a great way to avoid power struggles as Grandma’s rule makes it clear that kids have choice in the matter and the results really depend on their behavior.

Grandma’s rule is a great way to teach children self-discipline. It provides them with an incentive to really manage their own behavior.

When Grandma’s Rule is Most Effective

Grandma’s rule is most effective when you have time to wait for the child to complete the task.

For example, if you say, “As soon as you get ready for bed, we’ll read a book,” understand your child may still dawdle. You may need to frame it as, “If you are ready for bed within the next 10 minutes, we’ll have time to read a book.”

It also works best when you have a lot of structure and routine.

When kids understand what is expected of them and you use discipline consistently, they’ll understand what they need to do to earn their privileges.

When Grandma’s Rule Won’t Work

Grandma’s rule won’t be effective if you give in to your child. For example, if you say, “You can have dessert as soon as you finish eating,” but you end up allowing your child to eat dessert even though he didn’t finish his dinner, you’ll be teaching him that you don’t mean what you say. Make sure you are prepared to follow through with what you’ve said.

Grandma’s rule also won’t work if you start offering large, extravagant rewards. If you use too many big rewards, your child will come to expect them. Instead, use privileges your child already has or use free or low cost rewards.

Examples of Grandma’s Rule

Grandma’s rule can basically work by tying any task to a privilege. Here are some examples:
  • “When you’re done with your homework, you can watch TV.”
  • “As soon as you’re finished cleaning your room, you can play outside.”
  • “When you put your dishes in the sink, you can go play 30 minutes of video games.”
  • “As soon as your chores are done, I’ll pay you your allowance.”
  • “When you have your sneakers and jacket on, we’ll go to the playground.”

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