Whether you’re the parent of one, three, or eighteen, it may feel like the mess in your home multiples exponentially rather than simply adding up. Every jacket dropped in the entryway (just below the coat hooks) and every toy or book left lying in the living room takes on a life of its own and somehow magnetically attracts another dozen bits and bobs. It can often feel impossible to keep the house clean, get errands run, make nutritious home cooked meals, and fit in full days at work or school. For many parents, especially as your kids get old enough to start taking on a bit of responsibility, a chore chart or reward chart can be a great way to encourage kids to pitch in and share the tasks for keeping house.
What It Does
Implementing a reward system offers positive reinforcement for helpful or “good” behavior. Depending on the reward system you use, you can also take away points for any naughty behaviors, to better teach your children which actions or behaviors are disallowed and which ones need to be focused on. A chore or reward chart shows a tangible way to track the steps toward a reward, be that a fun day out or picking a treat from the family grab bag toys selection. Children can earn points toward their fun events or grab bag toys by doing chores as assigned, taking on extra tasks, or exhibiting good behavior without being asked.
How To Implement
If you decide to start a reward chart with your children, it’s important to set the expectations and convey the details upfront. That means if you want each child to have a specific selection of chores or you want to improve specific behaviors, tell your child everything you’ll be expecting of them from the start. To promote those behaviors, offer a reward for each child, but make sure it’s a specific reward. In addition, you’ll want to explain specifically how they’ll earn points, stars, stickers, or whatever you’re using to track and show them how many it will take until they earn their day out or a toy from your grab bag toys selection. Successful ways to do this include allowing your child to suggest the reward they want (within reason) or allowing them to select some of the options that go into your grab bag toys box. Also, you may want to start with a lower, easily achievable goal and raise it incrementally over time.
Starting a reward chart can come with a few potential issues. You may want to set the expectation upfront that good behavior is still expected, even when it isn’t being rewarded. Otherwise, your children will likely come to you for another star every time they help a sibling or pick up a single toy. The idea is to promote good behavior for the sake of the behavior, not just for the prospect of earning a reward. For instance, you may want to offer a sticker when your child helps a sibling without being prompted, but you don’t need to give a sticker for every single instance of they’ll come to expect it. Offer rewards for specific chores as promised, and give a sticker for especially good behavior, but not every single instance of good behavior so you don’t set that precedent. If you want to know more, check out this article from Psychology Today.
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