Financial incentive failure

A few months back I blogged about the miraculous discovery that a slight increase in pocket money and a different way of awarding it had worked wonders on my sons’ hell-hole of a bedroom. I was feeling all smug and pleased with myself. And VERY pleased to see the floor in my boys’ room.

But then things started to change. The tidying was getting less and less effective every week. Until it wasn’t happening at all.

So I started to withold the ‘tidy bedroom’ element of the pocket money (£1 each), but they weren’t bothered. We were up to four or five weeks without the hoover entering their room – not through any laziness on my part, but simply because I couldn’t see the damn carpet to clean it.

So I threatened them with the ultimate sanction. You fail to tidy your bedroom. You get NO POCKET MONEY.

Water off a duck’s back. They simply couldn’t be bothered. The room remained like a tip.

Now my boys, particularly my eldest, are very financially motivated and will generally do pretty much anything for money. But tidying their own bedroom was just a step too far.

They go through phases with money. They will spend their pocket money every week for weeks and will be desperate for the next hit to spend some more. Then they will stop spending and start hoarding  being tight  saving. Maybe there will be some Christmas or birthday money in the equation.

Suddenly they are rich. The pocket money is no longer an incentive and they are not prepared to tidy their tip of a room for a measly 3 quid (for my younger son) or 4 quid (for my eldest).

So it looks like it’s time for plan B. The problem is, I haven’t worked out what plan B is.

Author: Sarah Mummy

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  1. I had this with Betsy, she got paid a premium for a tidy room- never had to pay it! Then I Too stopped pocket money, but she now has a Saturday job so doesn’t care. Now I withdraw privileges. Theaten no rugby or an activity they like, but be prepared to follow it through if no result. However be warned, in my case I have to threaten cancelling stuff every single time I want her to tidy, it has not resulted in a natural ongoing tidiness!

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  2. My mum used to take everything off the floor and put it in the bath, we had an hour to move r stuff and put it away if not the tap went on. Always put my stuff away ha.

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  3. We have a lot of problems with tiding too. Not come up with anything that consistently works yet.

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  4. Have given up with twin daughters (although there is light at the end of the tunnel as they leave for uni in September). ‘Floordrobe’ situation is hideous…so only fling in stray belongings as discovered in other rooms of the house and close the door behind me!
    Hoping this phase will pass eventually…

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  5. Sorry Sarah, can’t help you with this one as I was always a very tidy child when it came to my bedroom and never left it messy. This has remained the case throughout my life; when I was 17 a builder looked inside my bedroom to provide an estimate for fitted wardrobes and said he’d never seen a young man’s bedroom look so tidy!

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  6. Thanks very much, everyone. Seems like it’s a common problem! I was never overly tidy as a kid, but I was nothing like my kids. As my mum would no doubt say, kids these days have too much stuff!
    The bath idea is great, Katy! Reckon that would spur them into action!
    My boys sound just like Betsy, Sonya. Whatever you take away, it’s not going to be as painful as actually getting on with tidying the damn bedroom!
    Izzie – I must admit I put stuff on their floor too if they’ve been left elsewhere in the house. If there’s nowhere else to put them in their room and they’ve made the mess anyway, I figure one more thing won’t make it any worse!
    James – I am in awe of you – or your parents! I wonder what they did to make you so tidy?

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  7. An age old problem.
    I don’t know how to solve your situation but here’s a few thoughts.
    I’m learning to overlook certain things. As my kiddos have got older I’m having to pick my battles. In the grand scheme of things having a tidy bedroom is less preferable than seeing them exhibit decent behaviour and respecting each other. I would be a complete nag if I constantly picked up on this although I will drop hints. My eldest is actually becoming tidier as time goes on.
    I’ve recently played a little scheme.
    It’s called ‘buy me a coffee’.
    It’s not entirely my idea.
    Here’s it in précis-
    I’m tired of picking up after you. I’m not going to bug you any more.
    I’ll walk in your room and just confiscate anything out of place until Friday. No exceptions ( except maybe a school book).
    On Friday you buy them back. 10p per item.
    No exceptions. You don’t want it back. Fine. You can throw it away.
    I don’t want to charge you but I don’t want to constantly be repeating myself.
    I’ll put all the money in a piggy bank and save up to buy myself a coffee ( or give to charity etc). I rarely get to do that as I’m too busy picking up after you guys.
    Non précis version.
    Maybe it’ll work for yours??

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  8. I like it! Thanks very much 🙂
    Generally I would say I do choose my battles and I’m not asking for perfection. I will let the untidy shelves, wardrobes, drawers, windowsill etc go. I just want to be able to see the majority of the floor!

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  9. I do this all of the time – come up with some great new scheme which works for a very short period of time then fails and I have to work out a new one! My latest is: all bedrooms to be tidied at some point over the weekend, if they are not in a fit state for me to clean on Monday morning, then back to old bedtime (they actually came up with the punishment idea themselves!) Try holding a family meeting and see what they come up with…

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  10. Can you confiscate anything from them? Like their play station or something similar? It’s hard when it’s cleaving though…..I would not want to do my laundry even if I was paid (I know that’s not v helpful, sorry!)

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  11. I am starting to battle with Grace over room tidying now – I was hoping to wait til she got a bit older! So far things seem to be going well although I’m sure it won’t stay that way for long!!

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  12. Thanks very much for your comments, ladies, I really appreciate them 🙂 Suzanne – your latest idea is on the same principle as mine in that the room has to be tidy for Sunday evening. It doesn’t matter if it gets messed up again, as long as it gets tidied every week. The bedtime idea is a good one!
    Confiscation could be the way forward, Tas. But I don’t set a great example either – I hate cleaning!
    Good luck, Tori! My daughter’s room is going downhill too, but it’s nowhere near as bad as the boys’ room.

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  13. Oh no! What a pain. Always a danger, I guess, of giving money for chores. Once they no longer want the money, they don’t do the chores! Eeeek! I’ve solved a problem we had recently with a financial disincentive: My kids always wake each other up in the morning. Now, if they do, they have to give the ‘victim’ £1 out of their own pocket. (They really only have tooth fairy money at the moment.) Nobody has been woken up since? Perhaps a financial penalty for NOT tidying might work? Good luck!! xx

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