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...spank, spank again?

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.”

 

Really? REALLY???

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.

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!

 

Another reward possibility, perhaps? "Tickling Daddy"

 

 

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Now that the kids are back from their kick-off-the-summer mini vacation, I wanted to try a new idea to reinforce their behavior and contributions to the household. In the June/July edition of Family Fun magazine, there is a Creative Solutions article by Malissa O’Brian. Her idea is to assign value to each chore or behavior, and kids can earn a gem or marble for their specially decorated jar.

I love it. Brilliant.

I like that it gives the kids more control over what they do. I like the healthy competition (“I want to do the 3 gem chore before Gracie does it today.”) . I love that they will learn that laziness does not pay (I suspect that lesson will be learned when sibs are off enjoying rewards without them).

So, I re-lined the white board in the hallway and put up the list of chores that the kids need to do and can choose to help with. Each chore has a value of 1 to 3 gems. Tomorrow, we are planning a trip to Michael’s to pick up some jars to decorate and gems to fill them with. I discussed the concept with the kids tonight, and explained all the ways that they can earn…or lose…their gems.

In order to earn gems, they need to complete chores from their list. They can also earn bonuses for “being caught being good”. Losing gems can occur when they choose to behave poorly. They were also told that stealing from others’ jars is completely unacceptable, and the thief would lose all their gems, to be divided between their sibs’ jars.

Once their jar is filled, they get to choose a reward from this list that I posted on their cork board:

What can you earn when you fill your Gem Jar?

Pick any ONE reward below!

(time and date of reward to be determined by Mom & Dad)

Taking a trip to the park

Spending the night with friends

Spending the night with grandparents

Going to a ball game, play, or concert

Playing mini golf with Mom or Dad

Eating out with Mom or Dad

Painting ceramics with Mom or Dad

Baking something in the kitchen with Mom

Planning a day’s activities for the family

Riding bikes with Mom or Dad

Going camping in the backyard with Dad

Going fishing with Dad

Staying up 30 minutes past bedtime

Going to the movies with Mom or Dad

Choosing the menu for a family meal

Going for a picnic with Mom or Dad

Going skating, swimming, or bowling with Mom or Dad

Ordering pizza…you choose the toppings

Going for a hike or letterboxing with Mom or Dad

Going canoeing with Mom or Dad

Choosing a special family breakfast

Playing a game with mom or dad

Getting an extra 30/60 minutes of computer time

Playing or renting a video game

Watching or renting a movie

Earning $10 to spend anywhere you want

Receiving a magazine subscription

Going out for ice cream with Mom or Dad

Going to the zoo with Mom or Dad

Receiving 5 scratch-off lottery tickets…you keep the winnings

Choosing a special dessert for the family

You are a gem! You can do it!


They are really excited about it! The questions were flying! What if we fill our jars at the same time? What if we choose the same reward? What if…? It was great to get them engaged in the idea. They starting choosing chores right away, and I marked their temporary gems on the whiteboard so I know how many to put in each jar tomorrow.

Here’s hoping this one “builds character”!

To be continued…

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So, about three weeks later, the kids have earned back a few of their toys. I can’t say I’m all that impressed with their behavior since. I can’t say I blame them, though. I’d be all kinds of bent out of shape if that had happened to me. But, they have been making baby steps of improvement every day.

They have all spent the last week away…Derrick with his Mother, and the girls with their Gramma & Papa. I’m hoping that this coming week will be great! It would be wonderful for them to earn back some more toys.

Keep your fingers crossed!

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Today was the day of the camel’s back breaking. They completely missed the point of the experiment. Sigh…

Yet again today we asked them to take care of their responsibilities (put away your clean clothes and clean your room before you go play outside) multiple times. I even stood in their room with them and pointed out each specific thing that they needed to take care of. Nada. We were ignored, as usual. I went into their room five minutes later, and the only thing they’d done right was put their toys away – the garbage still lay on the floor, the laundry basket had been shoved in the closet. And there they were, playing outside like it didn’t matter that they’d been deliberately disrespectful.

*insert long string of very colorful words here ala Yosemite Sam*

For some reason, our kids seem to like getting yelled at. They would rather play than be respectful of us or each other. Nothing we have done has worked. Nothing. Rewards don’t work. Punishment doesn’t work. Giving them responsibilities so that they can feel like important and valued members of the family doesn’t work. It was time for drastic measures…

So Adam and I got together to figure out what we could do to stop the massive disrespect problem. Because I’m very firm on the concept of natural consequences, we had to make sure that the punishment fit the crime. We eventually deduced that what was happening was that when we asked them to do something – regardless of what it was – they would choose not to do it because it was not fun and they would rather play. So, we stripped their room of everything except for their books and one stuffed animal each. We had a long talk with them (which was strikingly similar to at least a few dozen previously held conversations) about why their behavior is unacceptable, why their toys were being taken away, and what they could do to earn them back.

They are now sitting on their beds, contemplating what they can do to change their behavior.

To be continued…

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Due to the unfair and disrespectful treatment of the parents in this house, the Parental Union is going on strike today! Yes, that’s right. ON STRIKE! We figure that if the kids choose to ignore us and be disrespectful to us and each other, it must be fun, right?

So, today, I am a Veruca. I made myself cereal, and they had to make their own. I made some yummy blueberry scones and didn’t feel like sharing. Later today, I will play with the Wii and not share because it’s mine and they might break it or something.

Results of the experiment will be shared as they unfold…

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