Mama Points


My dad had this point system that he used with my younger half-brother and sister.  They lived in the USA.  I lived in London, England with my mom.  I would hear about it every summer when I visited.  You got “goods” for doing well in school, doing chores when asked, generally doin’ good.  Points got taken away for disobedience, naughtiness, whatever-annoyed-dad etc…  These were called “bads“.  You get the idea.  When you got enough points there was a trip to Baskin Robbins, 31 flavors.

I was exempt from this system, being a summer visitor, but still experienced the joy of 31 flavors.  Yay! for Summer visitors.  My younger sister hated the points system and my little brother was ambivalent.  When it came time for me to begin figuring out discipline for my own children, like many of us, I was trying to figure out a system.  I’m a deep believer in positive enforcement.  A kindergarten catch-phrase at my kids school comes to mind…”Catch your children being good“.  Going on my siblings mixed experiences I thought I would try the points system, but you only got points for being good.  When my children were disobedient or “not good” there was not a “punishment”, but I would let them know that if they could change the behavior to a positive one then they would get a Mama Point.  For instance, if there was an issue sharing toys and Dash ripped a toy out of Olivia’s hands…I would normally be brought in as Olivia screamed a five-alarm fire alert just to let me and the neighborhood know that injustice was going on in our household.  First, I never assume that there is just one side to the story.  Then I sit down, hug them both and ask each side to tell me the problem.

Dash:  It’s my toy, I got it for my 4th birthday from Josh.  (note to self…Dash is now 8.)

Olivia:  I was playing with it before Dash.  He only wants it because he doesn’t want me to have it.  (Most insightful)

Tallulah:  They can both have all of my toys.  (Tallulah is my kindest, most altruistic child, who is also the most materialistic.  Her favorite line being…let’s go buy something at Target, Mama.  When I’m done playing with it we can give it to charity.)

Me:  Tallulah, you and I are going to go and play in the other room.  Dash and Olivia…I am going to leave you alone for five minutes on this clock.  If you can figure out this issue by yourselves in the next five minutes, you will both get a Mama Point.  If you cannot, I will take the toy away from both of you until you work it out.

Most of the time, they figure the issue out most effectively between themselves.  Then they each get a Mama Point and they have great pride in their achievement.

Mama Points have now been a staple in our household for years.  They subsequently evolved into “Brother” and “Sister” points.  These were completely initiated by the kids.  As Dash is quite a bit older than the girls, it is the ultimate accolade to receive a Brother Point.

No doubt you are wondering what my children’s favorite Baskin Robbins, 31 flavors treat is?  There is no reward for achieving a certain number of Mama Points.  This was not by any great design on my part.  I loved 31 flavors and when I first thought up the system, I planned on some kind of reward system.  But with three kids, somehow…getting the chart on the wall…counting the Mama Points…getting everyone in the car and to Baskin Robbins…whilst still getting healthy food in them before the trip.  Well, it was too overwhelming.  Besides, I was and still am really, really into giving out many Mama Points.  It would have been ice-cream every day, six times a day.

So what is the reward, you are asking yourselves?  What is the incentive to try to earn a Mama Point?  The reward is the Mama Point.  There is no incentive, because the idea is to catch your child out doing “GOOD” many, many times during the day.  If they wash their hands without you asking, they get a Mama Point…and let them know its because you didn’t have to ask.  If they wash their hands after you asked them, they get a Mama Point…and let them know you appreciate them listening to you.  I get as much out of Mama Points as my kids, because it reminds me how many times a day my children try to do good.

I believe that people, kids and grown-ups like to be appreciated.  More than anything, we like our parents appreciation.  We want our parent’s approval.  Mama Points, for me, are an effective way of letting my children know that I appreciate the effort that they are making.

Mr. Rogers had a song that he used in his shows Mr. Rogers Neighborhood

You are Special

by Fred. M. Rogers

You are my friend
You are special
You are my friend
You’re special to me.
You are the only one like you.
Like you, my friend, I like you.

In the daytime
In the nighttime
Any time that you feel’s the right time
For a friendship with me, you see
F-R-I-E-N-D special
You are my friend
You’re special to me.
There’s only one in this wonderful world
You are special.

My Mama Points are a way of letting my children know, multiple times a day that they are special to me.

All of you who are supporting me by reading this blog are special to me.  Thank you and you all get a Mama Point.

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