Sunday, April 5, 2015

Chore Charts.... One That Works for Mommy!!

Chores, chores, chores. I've struggled for quite a while finding a way to make sure the kids are learning responsibility and being a part of keeping our house running smoothly. I've also learned a lot of about what formats I DON'T like!! I'll give you a preview of what we have tried, let you know why I didn't like it and show you what I came up with that I am hoping will last!!

The first chore chart I attempted with Cecelia was when she just turned three. Her job was to sort socks and pair them up. I had buckets with mommy, daddy, Cecelia and Coletyn written on them. She would sort everyone's then match them up. This worked well for her age but I didn't like it. It took too much time on my part. This was when I learned that the chores I gave the kids had to be ones that they could do independently and helped get to the end of the day, not make more work for me. Also, at this point, we only did laundry every two weeks so the volume of socks was too much for her attention span- research says average attention is one minute for every year old a child is. So she was three and that was about right on. After three minutes she was done. This took too much of my time and was just faster to do myself. We did this for a few months but then I dropped it all together. Attempt #1... fail.

Second up, the check off chart with pictures attached. See below:

This one looked snazzy but didn't work. I found every Sunday having forgotten about it during the week and then we would quick have Cecelia do her chores so she could earn her money, 4 years old so $.40/week. Yep, don't worry darling, you only have to help the family on Sundays... FAIL. This one I didn't like because there were other chores during the week she could have helped with. Although, this one was one she could do independently, it didn't offer or reward her for helping with extras or initiating other chores. In the end, this chore chart was still extra work for me- something extra hanging over me on Sundays. So, #2 failed as well.

The next one is Jason's creation. After the previous chore chart, about two years went by without Cecelia or Coletyn being responsible for any chores weekly. I just used the old bribery technique to get them to clean up their toys. I knew that needed to change but I still hadn't found a system that worked for me. So, Jason gave it a whirl. See below.
Although a great effort, this one failed as well. First, Coletyn can't read. Second, too complicated. Third, Daddy never followed through every week!! TOO much oversight and work on behalf of the parent.

While all of these failed, they still gave me evidence of what I wanted a chore routine to include:
  • teach independence
  • teach responsibility
  • reward initiating extra chores/helping
  • teach team-work (family works together to complete tasks- clean house)
  • allow for different frequencies of rewards for the differences in ages of kids within one system
  • one I can run and manipulate to work in my favor but not be a slave to
  • one that includes chores that are actually NEEDED during the day/week

What could I design that could do all of those things? I pondered this one for quite awhile, used some of my behavior modification techniques from school and used a wander around the dollar store to officially create it. This is what I developed.
$1.00 pocket chart + $1.00 foam cutouts
So, what is it? The pictures don't show that the pink cards are Cecelia's and the green are Coletyn's. Notice there will be room for Charlotte one day! Each child has 5 cards. The general concept is once a chore is completed, the child turns a card to see a number. Once all 5 numbers are showing they get their allowance or a prize from the chore box. Yes, we have a prize box in our house... doesn't every family?

So in the picture below, Cecelia has 3 chores completed and two to go until reward. Coletyn has two chores completed and three remaining until reward.

So, what defines a "chore." Here's the beauty... the chores are what ever I need them to be. Not what a piece of paper allows them to be! Boo-yah! All I have to say is (an example that happened tonight), "Coletyn, go put all of your trains in the blue bucket and you can turn a chore card." He ran to his trains, cleaned them all up, and turned his chore card all in about 4-6 minutes. AWESOME, now I won't step all over the trains tonight or clean them up myself.

The general concept behind it is behavior modification. When attempting to modify behavior, consequences never shape behaviors. Rewards for replacement behaviors increase frequency of replacement behaviors thereby eventually extinguishing the undesired behavior. So in this instance, the undesired behavior is the kids not wanting to help clean up when asked. The replacement behavior is cooperating to clean up and initiating chores. In a short 4 weeks of this system being in place, Coletyn has really bought into it and now requests to help with chores. There was a time this week when I couldn't think of what to give him to do. I came up with something though, believe me.

Also another consideration is the differences in what Cecelia needs to do versus Coletyn to earn a chore card. Coletyn's tasks are much smaller as he is much younger. For example, Cecelia may need to clean her whole room to earn a chore card where Coletyn may get one chore card per game he picks up (he likes to sneak into the game cabinets and throw the pieces everywhere). Since there isn't a "weekly" connection to the chores and the kids get their reward once all five are completed, this works well. Also in the beginning the chore required was extremely short to earn a chore card. I have been slowly able to increase the length of chore now to turn a chore card. It takes Cecelia about a week to get 5 finished- she's gone all day at school. It is taking Coletyn about 3 days to complete all 5 chores.

Rewards for the kids are:
Cecelia can earn $.50 each 5 chores ($.10/chore) or a prize from prize box.
Coletyn can earn $.05 each 5 chores ($.01/chore) or a prize from prize box.
They both have selected prize box everytime!

Cecelia has a yellow card on her row that says "Toys, towels and sweep." These are three words she can read that are always options for her to do- clean up toys, change hand towels in both bathrooms, or sweep kitchen floor. She knows if she wants to initiate a chore, these are always options for her.

In the end, this one is currently meeting my requirements for chores in our house:  teach independence, teach responsibility, reward initiating extra chores/helping, teach team-work (family works together to complete tasks- clean house), allow for different frequencies of rewards for the differences in ages of kids within one system, one I can run and manipulate to work in my favor but not be a slave to, one that includes chores that are actually NEEDED during the day/week

So, it is rocket science? No. 
Am I pretty happy with what I've come up with? Yes. 
Have I seen anything like this anywhere on the web? Nope!!

I hope someone else finds this of value!

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