Chore: the word itself sounds like a downer, but teaching your children about responsibility and good behavior is one of the most important lessons they will learn growing up. However, as we’re celebrating in Personality Week, every child is unique–with different attitudes, preferences, and abilities. So, how do you create a chore chart that is tailored specifically for your child, to help her develop in the ways she needs most?
The key is working with your child to create a chore chart with her input. A generic chore chart may not motivate as well as one that’s been tailored specifically for your child, so here are four ways to get her involved in the chore chart-creation process:
1) Identify current daily chores. Using a piece of paper, ask your child to either draw or write what she sees as her current chores or responsibilities. After your child is finished, have a discussion explaining which chores she thinks she excels in, and which she feels she could do better. Let your child drive this conversation as a way to encourage self-awareness.
2) Make a behavior list. Ask your child to draw a line down the middle of a piece of paper and write two lists of behaviors: with one side being good behavior (i.e. being kind), and the other side a list of not-so-good behaviors (i.e. teasing). Again, this is a very specific and personal conversation between you and your child. Once the list is complete, ask your child to circle which behaviors she feels most challenged with (or wants to improve in), and add those to your chore chart.
3) Select a few chores to start in the near future. After you have made a list of current chores and behaviors your child will focus on, ask her to identify a few activities that can be goals for the future. For example, your child may currently set the table for dinner, and has added that to her responsibility chart. The logical next step may be to work on a goal that teaches her to do the dishes (or load the dishwasher). One way to reach this goal would be to work on a “chore upgrade” – after a few weeks of solid performance in setting the table, “upgrade” to the next “level” of chore (you may want to consider accompanying this upgrade with a reward).
4) Choose rewards that mean something special to your child. To make rewards sustainable (both logistically and financially) consider choosing a special activity or privilege that your child can earn by doing her chores. Let her choose the next movie for movie night, activity for game night, or take her on a special “date” to reward a job well done. If she would like to earn a special new toy, use this as an opportunity to teach the value of money, and how to “save up” for larger rewards.