1. Make up TV money. As the child does something worth recognition -- he/she gets TV money. On a specific night of a favorite program or at other various times -- the child can buy more TV viewing time with the money. Money can take on the form of play coins and various bills that you and the children make together.
2. Put me in the hat! After discussing vacation spots with family members - everyone gets to write down several places that they wish to go. It makes the kids feel like they have been heard and are important.
3. Let them earn the right to put a suggestion in the hat by raising self-esteem and "giving a pat on the back" for a job well done: setting the table, cleaning up home office, going to the potty, feeding the pet, cleaning up their room, etc. The child gets to choose one of his "Put Me in The Hat" slips with his favorite vacation spot. Of course, the place with the most slips is the vacation that wins - so be sure to say, "These are only suggestions and we may not get to go to each one - but, let's have fun getting ideas."
4. Vacation spots can be homemade with various fruits, rocks, animals, boats, etc., to represent the place of vacation and to make it more fun and educational for the kids. Depending on how much time you'd like to put into this project, it could go into more complicated detail with beads, feathers, ribbon, etc.
5. "You've Got a Date With Me!" -- similar idea. Pick out favorite restaurants or activities and write them on slips of papers. For every good deed, a "Thank You" slip gets to be pulled out of the jar and the child writes his favorite place to go or something to do. At the end of the day, week, etc., slips are tabulated to see which restaurant or activity has won. Save the really neat ones for grades or other special occasions. "You've Got a Date With Me," slips can be made into various veggies, music notes, bowling balls, whatever represents the restaurant or activity with the name printed in a bright color with markers.
Two people can go together or the whole family - choose that ahead of time. If at all possible, try to honor the winner. Limiting or offering suggestions for the activity, restaurant or the TV program might be a good idea if a work schedule has become tight in a specific week or month. As the time draws closer and it appears it cannot happen, let the kids know that you will try to honor their suggestions but that sometimes things can come up to prevent it. If an event or activity cannot be worked out, it can always be rescheduled. Follow through on previous plans on keeping your word and responsibility as a role model. Life is full of lessons -- try to teach valuable ones.
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