Rules shmules: A homemade “cryptocurrency” exchange game for kids to incentivize self-governance

James Deagle
4 min readFeb 4, 2020

I’ve often felt the frustration of being caught between wishing my kids had more of a respect for rules, and the knowledge that kids tend to rebel against rules, especially those set down by parents.

Over time I’ve done so much squawking at my progeny to Do this! or Don’t do that!, and now I’m simply fresh out of squawk. They’re generally well-behaved, and more or less respect the rules set down by their parents and other authority figures — however, like any kids, they have their flare-ups and lapses.

Seeing as how I’m now squawkless, I’ve been thinking that trying to enforce rules from above was the wrong approach all along, and that maybe what I’ve been needing is a system to motivate my kids to make better choices in those areas where they are sometimes lacking.

At the same time, I have been involved in the world of blockchain technology in one form or another since mid-2018, and so it comes as no surprise (to me, in retrospect) that if you hand a cryptocurrency enthusiast a social problem to resolve, he’ll come up with a cryptocurrency-based solution.

Enter the homemade “crytpocurrency” exchange game for kids

The solution I came with is a non-electronic, non-blockchain “cryptocurrency” exchange game in which all transactions for each child are initially recorded by hand on a 3"x 5" index card (because I’m trying to reduce screen time and encourage penmanship), including the transaction number, amount being earned (in DCN, our in-house token), traded, or spent, my initials (as authorization), the resulting balance after each transaction, and a brief note describing the reason for the transaction. Following that sequence, the second line from my oldest child’s first transaction card was rendered like this:

2. +1.00 DCN JD 2.00 HOMEWORK DONE

The “transaction cards” (i.e. paper-based “crypto wallets”) that form the physical basis of our homemade “cryptocurrency” exchange game. Transaction #5 shows the additional DCN I had initially forgotten to award my kids for making their beds without having been asked.

In practice, this system strikes me as being more of a Local Exchange Trading System (LETS)] than an According to Hoyle cryptocurrency, which by definition is digital in nature. Nevertheless, the inspiration for this system was the world of blockchain-based cryptocurrencies such as Ethereum, Tron TRX, or even Steem, where the currency…