Friday, September 11, 2009

Should kids do chores?

I have often thought about this question.  My answer is always I think so. I have my kids help me with little stuff around the house.  I have to say that it does make my day longer but it gives them a sense of being responsible for something.  That's very important.

Yesterday, I had Jason help feed the dogs.  Now he can count but he doesn't apply logic to what he is doing.  I am used to Faith feeding the dogs so I wasn't paying much attention to what he was doing.  Not to bright on my part.  Live and learn.  I turn around when he is put the Jasmine, the Newfoundland's, food in her cage.  The bowl is overflowing.  Then I look at the Lucky, the Sheltie's, food.  Lucky's food is overflowing as well.  He gave Lucky as much food as he gave Jasmine.  Now Jasmine was ready to tear into that food.  She barely waits for it to be put in her cage before she eats it.  She would have eaten all that food with one swoop so I basically had to redo it.  But he was trying.  I showed him how much to give her.  His response was, "Mommy, I will do it right tomorrow."  Lesson learned.  Will I let him try again tomorrow?  Maybe with Faith's help if she isn't running late.

When I am cleaning, I have Jason and Faith walk around the house and pick up toys.  They have to put them up.  I don't know how but we always end up with their toys everywhere.  Every morning they are responsible for picking up their rooms before breakfast.  Now you have to realize that with Faith going to school that doesn't always happen.  They can't always do it by themselves since it usually is a disaster.  They have collected a lot of toys lately.  Ken and I went alittle crazy when we first got Jason.  We would buy Jason something new.  Of course, Faith had to have something as well.  The kids and I have been deciding what they don't use and donating those things to charity.

I have set up jars with their names on it.  The third jar is just for the marbles to be earned.  When we first started this process, I sat down with the kids and explained it.  I asked them to help me come up with ways that they could earn marbles.  Let me tell you they were perfectly willing to help me with a list.  Here are some of the things they thought of:
  • Getting dressed before coming down for breakfast
  • Brushing their teeth in the morning and at bedtime (without being asked.)  We are still working on this one.
  • Feeding the dogs when they first get up
  • Picking up their shoes and putting them where they belong
  • Being good when we are out visiting
  • Being good when we are at the store
  • Being good to each other
The list continues to grow every day.  As they have gotten older they have new ones added to the list like Faith now gets the mail as she comes in from school or doing her homework without fighting.  I do special assignments with Jason too so he can earn the same amount of marbles.

Now the flip side to this is, they can lose marbles as well for bad behavior such as:
  • Talking back
  • Causing a scene when we are out.  Jason still throws tantrums.  I can't reward bad behavior.
  • Not listening to me.
  • Fighting with each other
This simple process has made my life so much easier.  Jason and Faith know what is expected of them.  I realize that the kids are still young but responsibility is important even at their age.  There isn't that much arguing about things either.  If they are acting up, they get one warning of "I'm going to take a marble out of your jar if you don't stop."  They usually stop.  Sometimes they don't.

Now for the positive reinforcement to the good behavior, we have reward systems for those earned marbles.  Just getting the marble is sometimes enough.  But I wanted them to have some systems.  I think it helps them to realize why daddy goes to work since they have to earn special treats.  Some things we use as rewards are:
  • Going to the park
  • Going to Borders for hot chocolate
  • Making a special pizza at home for them.
  • Going to the mall to play
  • Going to McDonalds to get a happy meal
Each item has a different value of marbles to it.  Sometimes Faith earns something while Jason doesn't.  They had to learn that if they didn't earn it.  They simply didn't get it.   We still reward the child appropriately that did earn it. 

They are always coming up with ways to earn marbles as well.  Faith likes to pick out the prettiest in the jar to put into hers.  Jason gets a kick out of just taking his marbles from the main jar and putting them into his. 

Do you guys make your kids clean their own rooms?  Do you have a reward system?  Please answer these questions in the comments.