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.
Johnny is sitting in a big pile of assorted toys and books for the fifth time today. As soon as you pick up everything, it seems it's right back on the floor. You may often find yourself asking "Why is my child's room so messy?" Does a messy room make you a failure? No. Does it mean your child is a misfit? No. All it means is you have something to work on together. As a mother to four who has dealt with this a time or two - or a thousand - what I have learned along the way might help you too.
Is your child's room messy, due to lack of organization? If there are several toys and items that don;t really have an exact spot or are mixed up with others, your child may simply be confused. A lack of structure in the way the room is set up can lead to a child feeling discouraged and indecisive during clean-up time. Set up an organizational system that your child can easily follow. Labeling containers with pictures and words for each type of item is helpful for younger children. Older children should be allowed to set up their organization system themselves.
Can your children tell where things go in their room? This falls in line with the organizational system, as well as brings up another factor. If there is a designated clean-up spot for everything, it makes it less daunting. You know how you feel when you see that big pile of stuff. Imagine that same feeling from a child's perspective. Not having an organizational plan can stress kids further because not only do they have to pick up everything, they have to find a spot for it too.
Has your child been taught about value? Perhaps your kids throw things on the floor because they don't understand about value. If you buy them toys, books, clothing, and other items too often, those things no longer have value. It just becomes the normal thing to do. Thus, the items are just something that can be tossed around and replaced regularly. Set limits on the number of items you purchase, how much you spend, and more. Be sure the kids know these limits and are allowed to observe not only the spending part, but the earning process it takes to get the amount needed for each of their items.
Is your cleaning routine too drab? Perhaps your kids don't want to clean because it's too much of a chore. Just because it has to be done doesn't mean it can't be fun. Put on some music and dance the room clean. Give the kids each a reusable grocery bag or a kid's shopping cart, have them fill it up with items, and race to put them away. A creative and fun game will get their attention faster than screaming in frustration. It will also save you and the kids from further stress.
Is there more stuff than space to put it in? If your child has more toys than places to keep them, the problem is not your child being messy. The problem is too much stuff. What do you expect him to do with it if there's nowhere to put it? This calls for a sort and donate situation. You and your child can discuss kids that don't have enough toys to play with and how there is too much in his room. Together, go through the items and decide how much to keep, based on room to store it.
by Lyn Lomasi, Staff Writer
In order for tweens to be ready to start their first job as teens, they need practice. But without actually being able to work, how can they get that practice? As a parent, there are a variety of ways I help to cultivate career skills in my tweens. From household responsibilities, to volunteering, playing games, and more, get proactive in developing your tween's career skills today. They may not be thrilled with some of these ideas at first. But in time they will grow to love them and thank you in the future.
Get tweens involved in activities and clubs.
This is a simple way to teach your tween the teamwork it takes to succeed in their future career. It also can teach organizational and leadership skills. Recreational sports, dance, drama, band, choir, science, and other educational clubs and activities are available in most areas. Check with your child's school or homeschool group first. If the programs don't exist there, private organizations and churches often offer many activities.
Volunteer programs can help encourage and enhance career skills.
From helping the elderly, to feeding the homeless, caring for animals, and more, tweens can get involved in many volunteer programs. Call around to various organizations in your area to see who needs help. Remember to ask about age requirements. Not all organizations or opportunities are available to minors. Some also may require that an adult volunteer along with the tween. This can actually be good, as it gives you and your child some rewarding time together. Teaching kids to volunteer not only gives them valuable career experience, but also helps encourage compassion.
Let them take charge of certain things at home.
Responsibility starts at home. Chores and other household tasks teach your child important career skills that can be used throughout life. I like to treat my kids as team members and let them help in certain household decisions. Although this is not a job, it does help kids prepare for making choices in life, which strongly applies to career-related skills. Deciphering choices that lead to certain outcomes is a much-desired trait in the workforce, as is the ability to be part of a collaborative team. Being a 'mommy's helper' and watching over younger siblings and even pets is one way tweens can take charge. Just be sure they know the rules and also have proper supervision.
Family field trips geared toward interest can help cultivate skills.
No matter what your child is interested in doing as a career, there is always a related destination. Even if your child changes career thoughts often, it's still possible. For instance, if your tween wants to be a firefighter, visit the local firehouse. Some cities even have firefighter museums. If your child wants to work with animals, visit local shelters, zoos, and wildlife reserves. The main idea is to enrich your child's life with various activities and destinations that may enhance her career choice. Even if your tween changes her mind about career directions, the field trips will still add to overall experience.
Educational books and other media are useful.
Surround your child with opportunities to read books related to his career and life interests. If books are easy to access, even kids who do not prefer to read will eventually start picking them up. Also offer a variety of educational computer games, movies, and TV shows to show from. While it's not a good idea for a child to watch TV or play on the computer all day long, in moderation, these things can be good. When a child enjoys doing something, it can be easier for the knowledge to sink in, which is always a good thing.
*I originally publised this via Yahoo Contributor Network
Lyn Lomasi is founder and owner of the Brand Shamans network. She is your brand healing, soul healing, marketing & content superhero to the rescue! Running a network of websites, tackling deadlines single-handedly, and coaching fellow writers, brands, & entrepreneurs to be thought leaders is her top priority.
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