Getting Kids to Turn Off Light

Can you remember things your parents told you as a kid that you thought did not matter? And, now that you are an adult, and maybe a parent yourself, you realize their perspective was a little more accurate than yours? Do you find yourself having the same conversations with your kids?

I remember discussions with my parents about slamming doors, tiptoeing up and down stairs, folding towels in a square, closing the door, so they did not have to pay to heat/cool down the outside. As a kid, my perspective was they spent way too much time worrying about things that didn’t matter. Didn’t they know I would figure it out eventually, but not today? Today, I needed to play.

Now, Ben and I find ourselves in the position of having similar conversations with our kids. Close the door. Don’t stand there with the refrigerator door open. Have fruit for a snack. Make your bed. Put your clean clothes away, don’t just throw them back into the laundry. And a few others.

The one direction that occurs more than all others is for the girls to turn out lights when they leave the room. This is not one they had not been able to connect with until I made it a little more personal. In their minds, it shouldn’t matter if the lights were turned out or not because at some point in the day they would end up back in the room and need the light on. Why waste time and energy turning the lights out.

My solution: Charge them a nickel each time they left the room without turning off the light.

The first week this rule was in place, my little bank was full of nickels. However, each week that went by, I had fewer and fewer as the girls remembered always to turn off the lights. They worked too hard to earn their allowance to spend it on a bad habit. Within a month, all four of them consistently turned the lights off without any reminders.

Now, we are several months from when we began this approach, and they are still outstanding about not leaving lights on. In fact, the other day, my 10-year-old was playing and needed to get something from her sister’s room. She promptly informed me she was leaving the room for five seconds, and then would be back in to finish playing. She did not need to turn the light off because she wasn’t leaving, she was just getting something and would be right back.

The girls have all learned to turn off lights and are very good at making sure it happens all the time. My husband, on the other hand, leaves all the lights on. We have come home on more than one occasion, and all the lights are on in the house because he was the last one out the door and did not turn them off. The ongoing joke the girls have with their dad is he must pay Mom a nickel for leaving the lights on.



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