Banish burping by charging a fee–it works!

Being the only female in an all male household has its challenges–always having a sporting event, Wipe Out, or Ninja Warrior playing on the TV, faking excitement at the sight of the latest worm, lizard, frog, or spider they’ve discovered, or constantly going from bathroom to bathroom putting toilet seats down like an obsessive-compulsive cleaning lady–but the worst I’d say is the unbelievable amount of gas released in my house on a daily basis. It doesn’t seem to matter what they eat or drink, or if they’ve had nothing at all for hours, the odoriferous noises they proudly produce can be heard by our next door neighbors even with our doors closed and windows sealed, I am sure of it. As the boys get older, they’re  becoming more proficient in their belching technique, too, and have moved on from tiny little accidental burps to long, loud, reciting-the-alphabet-clear-as-a-bell burps. Sometimes they stare in amazement at what they create (much like Will Ferrell’s character in Elf after he chugs an entire 2-liter bottle of Coke), but after snapping out of their daze they always giggle appreciatively before the next one attempts to one-up the other.

After trying endlessly and unsuccessfully to nix this bad behavior, an idea zapped into my mind like a lightening bolt during one of our regular noisy dinners: they should pay a fee. I had tried everything else from rewarding them for no-burping during meals to sending them to time out when they burped, so why not try a different approach? It was one of those Aha! Moments that Oprah talks about, for sure, albeit on a very low-level.

I explained the new rule and told them it was in effect at all times, not just at the table.  I told them they were more than welcome to burp, but when they did they would have to stop what they were doing, crack open their piggy banks, and fork over a quarter to pay the newly imposed Burping Fee. They smiled and giggled and happily agreed. Then one burped, then another, then another and their cherubic giggles quickly turned to anger and tears as they marched to their rooms to retrieve twenty-five cents each.

After a few days of strict enforcement, the belching almost completely stopped. Since Ryan is only 5 and still doesn’t fully grasp the concept of money, he doesn’t mind parting with it so much, but the other two (ages 8 & 6) absolutely hate to waste their money on burping. I think we’re good as long as the boys don’t realize I’m slipping the money back into their banks when they aren’t looking.

It’s even been so successful that I recently threatened to institute a Tooting Toll, but so far just the mention of it has deterred the behavior.

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