As a seasoned parent, I have tried my fair share of chore charts, rewards, and punishments when it comes to chores. Some worked for a short period of time and some were a failure from the start. Only one has stood the test of time with both young kids and even tweens. This is when we use a chore tracking system that includes rewards of both money and computer time. It requires a list of chores and a tracking chart. With this method, it’s been possible to get tweens to do chores using allowance and computer time. The tweens are open to this, as are the younger kids. Here’s how it’s done.
Step 1: Create a chore list. This can be on a small sheet of paper that will be tacked to the refrigerator or another common area. List all chores throughout the entire house, big or small. I find it easy to sort the chores by rooms. This helps the kids find them and it also separates simple and hard tasks. For instance, taking out office trash may be simpler than taking out kitchen trash.
Step 2: Assign points to each chore. In our house, each point is equal to either a penny or 30 seconds of computer time. Determine how many points should be awarded for each chore, based on its difficulty. For instance, doing the dishes might be worth 50 points (variable). That would be 25 minutes of computer time or 50 cents. But a more simple chore, like washing the counters, might only be worth 15-20 points, depending on how dirty the counters may be.
Step 3: Determine when the reward will occur. We allow the computer time to be redeemed any time there is no schoolwork or housework that needs doing. But if the tweens choose money, they can redeem their points for money once per week. This teaches the value of saving because they have to wait and there is only so much computer time one could want. We also limit computer time to a certain number of minutes per day per kid.
Step 4: Create a tracking chart. This is separate from the chore list. The tracking sheet will be easiest to use if it can be erased and reused each week. We like to use a dry erase board and markers. We write in each child's name and when they do each chore, the points are placed with their name. The kids are allowed to choose any chores they please. You may decide to do this differently. If any points are rewarded before the end of the week (computer points), those are eased. This way, at the end of the week, the tweens are not confused as to how many points they should have.
Step 5: Discuss the chart with your tweens. Let them know the basic rules, as well as how many chores (if any) are expected each day. We are more free with this and I think that opens them up to offer more than they might normally do if forced. Because they have an incentive, it's usually not necessary to ask them to do certain things. They already know that if they don't do any chores, they don't get any allowance or computer time because there won't be any points.
Each parent who uses this method may choose to add their own rules or modify the system to fit their family. It is not important to stick to my exact method because each child is different. Consistency is the most important factor of this chore rewards system, as with any other. No matter the method you choose to use with your tweens, be sure it is the right fit in your family and one you can follow through with. Consistency and follow-through are the secrets to success in anything.
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