So I took away an idea from Julia's teacher and adapated it for use at home.
Enter these little florist glass thingies. The kids chose the colours and a glass vase to put them inm and I simply give them opportunities to earn them. "OK--I'm going to ask you to put your pjs on now--if I don't have to ask again, you get a gem." When we are reading the scriptures together, if you are respectful, sit quietly, and listen, you get a gem(or two--I'm not picky). Eat their supper? Gem. Pick up their toys when I ask the first time? Gem. Go to bed without calling me upstairs a dozen times? Gem. When I bite my tongue and choose to use a patient, kind voice rather than be snarky? I give myself a gem! The catch? If they say, "I did such and such, can I get a gem?" The answer is nope. hehe.
When the vase is full, it's a special, family fun time of their choice. We do fun things as a family anyway, but this can be something the kids can choose to do.
Now, some people might thing a reward system for things that they are expected to do doesn't make sense. I say if you can teach your kids to be happily appropriate at home without it--my hat goes off to you. In our case, they always have had to do whatever it was that was required, but it was like pulling teeth. Having to make the request a gazillion times and be ignored, and the ante always being upped was driving me loopy! There was also the feeling that it didn't matter what mom or dad said, chances are they'd do what they wanted anyway, consequence be hooied, and then I'd have to deal with THAT issue, and then everone was unhappy. It was the attitude that needed changing. What this has started to do is make the execution of whatever the task is a lot more streamlined and happy, at least so far. I have good kids, I really do. I'm sounding like they're little terrors! But it is so frustrating when the wonderful behavior that is exhibited everywhere else goes out the window when they get home. And that had to change.
Yes, there are still fights to referee, issues that need to be fixed, times when what the child wants right then or the emotion they feel overrides everything else. So there are still those policeman mommy moments. But I figure that right now the important thing is to bring a positive, loving, happy feeling in our home again. A feeling of working for something fun. And hopefully, like the stickers I used when I was potty training the kids, once it becomes second nature they won't need them any more.
At least that's my hope. It has only been going about two weeks. Sunday was like a major relapse. Not sure what was in the water. But today they're back to being awesome little people. Having fun with each other, figuring out how to handle disagreements, being helpful. It is a joy.