So, here I am again. Desperately seeking a plan for “Getting Kids to Act Like They Care v9.99 or so”. Honestly, this has got to be the hardest part of parenting. It’s immensely difficult to wrap my (mostly) mature brain around the concept that kids would rather get in trouble by goofing off than by contributing to the household and feeling a sense of importance. Yeah, I’m told that’s too abstract for them (that’s the word of the day, by the way – “abstract”. Most days the situation degrades to the point where the kids actions scream, “Screw you, Mom and Dad. Yeah, I know Dad works all day long to provide us with the things we need. Yeah, we know you spend your days taking care of us all. But, really, you expect me to care? What -EVER! I would rather play than pull my weight around here, thanks. Buh bye.”
Recently, a friend posted a plea for help on Facebook about having trouble with getting her child to help out with family responsibilities. I can’t say I was even the least bit surprised when easily a dozen Moms chimed in with their struggles and ideas for solutions. And so I admit to myself and these Mamas that each of my carefully devised plans of attack have failed on my darling little minions of destruction.
In the words of Marvin the Martian, “Well, back to the old drawing board.”
For the past few days, I have been scouring the internet for new ideas and approaches to the situation. Surely, there must be something out there that’s better than tanning their backside or screaming at them until you burst blood vessels in your face! Right?
Fortunately, I seem to have hit on a game plan. Freeprintablebehaviorcharts.com
There is an article on their site entitled “I’ll do It Later or Six Ways to Get Your Kids to Do Chores Now (Without Going Crazy)”. Oh yeah, now we’re talking. Tell me more.
Here are some prized tidbits of info I gleaned from the article:
1. Stop the Show: separate the kids from the thing that is distracting them from the tasks you’ve asked them to do. Find out what they want to do when they’re done with said chores, and let that be their motivation to finish. Yelling at them about responsibility to family and serving others doesn’t work (Yep. I’ve noticed that.).
2. Time the chores: “The dishes have to be done in 20 minutes. If they’re not done, you will be going to sleep 20 minutes early. If you do finish in 20 minutes, you’ve earned an extra 20 minutes of computer time” (I like the way they think!!!)
3. Allowance: Consider giving kids an allowance based on performed chores (This does not work for us. Money is too tight, and the concept of what it is truly worth is too abstract for the kids. There’s no currency in currency here.)
4. Structure: Create a daily chore schedule for kids outlining what task needs to happen when based on the obligations of the day (school, mealtimes, etc.). (I have learned the hard way that kids are clueless when it comes to the abstract concepts of time vs. activities.)
5. Don’t Turn Chores Into Punishment: Only dole out additional chores as a way to make amends for wronging another family member. ie: “I’m sorry I hit you for accidentally kicking me. I will make your bed today to make it up to you.” ( I LOVE this!!!! Another suggestion from the same website is to have kids write apology letters including details of how they will make different choices the next time. Great idea!)
6. Rewards: Offer the kids rewards that will help them stay motivated based on their performance. (I am constantly teetering on the edge of whether this feels right to me or not. On one side, how can they learn the value of work for work’s sake? There won’t always be incentive for everything. But then, they are just kids. Sweetening the chore pot really isn’t so horrible, right?)
So, I have been working out a loosely scheduled chore chart for all the kids. One for Derrick, who is currently in public school: derrick responsibilities, and one for Kaitie, kaitie responsibilities, and Gracie gracie responsibilities, both homeschooled. I have the printed charts taped to the fridge next to itty bitty reward chart stickers that the kids can use to mark off their completed jobs. My kids LOVE stickering things (still trying to get some off the floor from an episode when they were two.) so I think they’ll enjoy that.
I’ve also revamped the rewards list that we used with our last incentive program – the failed Viking Dollars. Most of the rewards on the list are involving spending time with the family, Mom, or Dad. I’m ok with the occasional toy splurge (limited to $10), but I don’t like offering material things as rewards. Their responsibility charts have just over 100 tasks each per week, so that is what I kept in mind for the reward chart.
If you complete up to 60 responsibilities:
Enjoying a special treat (candy, chocolate)
Staying up 30 minutes past bedtime
Earn an extra 30 minutes of electronics time
If you complete up to 80 responsibilities:
Taking a trip to the playground
Baking or cooking something in the kitchen with Mom
Riding bikes with Mom or Dad
Going for a picnic with Mom or Dad
Choosing a special family breakfast, lunch, dinner, or dessert
Playing a board game or doing a puzzle with mom or dad
Choosing one special snack on the next grocery shopping trip
If you complete 100 or more responsibilities:
Spending the night with friends or having them spend the night
Going camping in the backyard with Dad
Going for a hike or letterboxing with Mom or Dad
Renting a video game or a movie
Earn an extra 60 minutes of electronics time
Go to the mall with Mom or Dad to bounce on the trampoline
Receiving 5 scratch-off lottery tickets…you keep the winnings
Going to the beach with Mom or Dad
If you complete 100 or more responsibilities two weeks in a row:
Spending the weekend with Gramma & Papa or Grandpa
Playing mini golf with Mom or Dad
Eating out with Mom or Dad
Ordering pizza…you choose the restaurant
Going to the zoo, science center, or art museum with Mom or Dad
If you complete 100 or more responsibilities three weeks in a row:
Going to the movies with Mom or Dad
Going fishing with Dad
Going out for ice cream with Mom or Dad
Go on a trip to ta store to buy an item worth $10 or less
Staying up past your bedtime to watch the movie of your choice
If you complete 100 or more responsibilities for a whole month:
Painting ceramics with Mom or Dad
Going to a ball game, play, or concert
Going skating, swimming, or bowling with Mom or Dad
Going canoeing with Mom or Dad
Go to Monkey Joe’s with Mom or Dad
If you complete 100 or more responsibilities for 2 months:
Go to a theme park with Mom or Dad
So…here we go! Keep your fingers crossed for us!