We've been pretty lucky parents in having relatively well behaved kids. They have their moments, but overall, they're polite, listen well, follow rules and don't fight too much. We'd considered starting chore charts a while ago but never pulled anything together to make it official so it fell to the wayside.
Cue winter...I don't know what the deal was but my kiddos turned into little monsters at home. Thankfully they were still well behaved at school and with others but at home, it was one fight after another: arguing when asked to pick up their toys, stomping and screaming when asked to wash their hands. complete meltdowns anytime they had to get dressed/stop playing/go to the bathroom, etc. There were several mornings I left for work in a terrible mood or even tears out of frustration. One night, scary mommy came out and I screamed at one of them like I'd never done so before. I felt awful and I knew something needed to give!
Paul and I both looked at the two worse culprits - Sarah and Adam - and felt that the majority of their behavior was attention seeking. Unfortunately, we were feeding into it more often than not and the cycle kept continuing. Meanwhile, Jacob, who would often be really good at their worst moments, was not getting the positive attention he deserved because we were caught up in the drama of the other two. Ugh!
Our proposed solution was starting Responsibility Charts - rolling chores and behavior into one. They're all old enough to help around the house more and take responsibility for themselves. I searched Pinterest for ideas of easy systems to use and found a cool website that made cute printable charts. www.GoalForIt.com is free and has a variety of options but the basic chore chart has been what we've used.
First, the kids get to pick a fun header for their own chart. They have a lot of cute designs for boys and girls and even tweens/teens. The responsibilities are broken down into 4 categories: chores and responsibilities, behavior goals, school habits and healthy habits. You can also custom create your own tiles. We told the kids they will each have 5 responsibilities each week. They get to pick at least two, Mom and Dad get to pick at least two and then the last one can be another chore, but easier to ensure success.
As for rewards - we opted to avoid money or cheap dollar store rewards and instead reward them with "Quality time with Mom or Dad." We figured that would be more meaningful than "stuff/junk" plus it would help meet that 'attention seeking' need that they seemed to be fighting for.
We let the kids brainstorm ideas for chores and behavioral goals as well as the rewards. We added some of our own ideas but the kids were really honest in recognizing things they needed to work on and suggested reasonable rewards, too. They were really excited to think of ways they could help and ways to be rewarded. They couldn't wait to make their charts last weekend.
Week one has come and gone and it has made a huge difference - especially with Jacob and Sarah. Adam has a harder time being motivated, but I think he'll get the hang of it, especially as he sees his brother and sister work hard. He did better with his concrete chores than the behavioral type goals.
Sarah's Responsibilities: Dry dishes, Set the table, Get dressed nicely (BIG issue!!!), No tantrums and Practice Reading. She only lost 2 stickers/points and earned 29 points her first week.
Jacob's Responsibilities: Take out the Trash/Recycling, Feed the dogs, Nice hands, Wash your hands well (not in 2 seconds) and Eat your Veggies (his 'easy' pic - he always eats them!). He only lost one point and earned 30 points for the week.
Adam's Responsibilities: (We only had Adam pick 4 things to focus on but might bump him up to 5 as he gets the hang of it). Pick up my toys, Get ready for school on time, Go potty when asked, put dirty clothes in the hamper.
They helped pick rewards and can pick any one reward as long as you have enough points. (these will also be adjusted to % for Adam since he has fewer responsibilities.)
30 points and up:
Lunch out with Mom or Dad
Get to play the Wii on a weeknight (usually its weekend only)
25 points and up:
Go for a smoothie, donut, drink at Starbucks or ice cream with Mom or Dad
20 points and up:
20 minutes on the computer
Get to stay up an extra 15 minutes at bed time
15 points and up:
Chocolate milk at dinner one night
A extra bedtime story
If everyone gets 30 or more points in the same week - we'll have a Family Movie Night with popcorn!
One week in, I'm really happy with how effective this approach has been. They are all more willing to help to earn their stickers/stars. They are responding better to reminders about their behavior. We are less frustrated and their behavior has improved! I was truly impressed with Sarah this weekend - 2 of her goals this week kind of go hand-in-hand: No whining and Getting Dressed Nicely (getting dressed is a HUGE issue for Sarah - more on that another day...). She started slipping into that mood one day this weekend and quickly snapped out of it. She later told me she "almost whined and didn't get dressed nicely but she wanted to earn her sticker so she made the choice to do it nicely and not whine!" I'm pretty sure Angels sang!!!