Do you struggle to get your kids to do their chores — or even to figure out WHAT chores they need to do? You are not alone. And then, when you do figure out the chores, getting your kids to do them — with a smile on their face — is another obstacle all together.
As Moms and Dads, part of what we need to teach our children is how to contribute to the running of our household, which in turn can help them to become contributing members of society. It helps the house run smoother and they actually get the opportunity to take ownership of a task. That alone can boost self-esteem and help them with their development. I know my kids get a lot of satisfaction when they complete a task.
When our kids were younger, we just did a ticket system and did not have a formal chore chart. However, now that they are all older, it is easier to have all three of them follow the same system. What we are trying to teach them more than anything is that you have to work to earn money. Not only that, but if you do the wrong thing, you may have to pay money to others.
In our household, we do not call their money an allowance. We call it commissions. They also can earn bonuses (for extra tasks that are above what we would expect – like picking up the family room without being told). Each Sunday evening, we sit down with them and their charts and we pay them all commissions and bonuses. We then look at the fines to see how much they owe us in return. Our fines include items such as fighting, sassing, not doing what you are told, etc. They each know how much they can earn in 7 days and that they are responsible for any money they lose in the process. If they do not do the work, they just do not get paid. It is that simple (just like in life).
Here are some things to keep in mind when creating your own chore chart for your children.
1. Keep it Age Appropriate.
Since we have 3 kids, that means the chores that they each must do vary. In fact, our youngest has only 6 weekly items she must do whereas our 10 year old has close to 10. The older your children are, the more responsibility they can accept.
I’ve created a chart you can use to determine the types of chores you can assign to your own children. These are broken down into various age groups, to help make it simpler to find the chores your child should be able to complete.
This is a great way to help your children learn how to complete these tasks. However, remember that you can’t expect perfection. Just expect for them to try their best. This chart is a great way for them to learn how to take care of themselves and their own home.
You may also try a task listed and find that your child is not yet ready to try that. Just change what you do the following week. Conversely, you may feel your child can take care of items listed in an age group which is older. That too is fine. This is a guide to help you find those items which work for both you and your child.
2. Find a Form that Works for You.
It is important that your child can see the chart and keep track of what he or she has done for the week. This can be done on a white board on your refrigerator or even a piece of paper tacked to a bulletin board.
The idea is that your children can see what they need to do on a daily basis and take the steps to do these items themselves. I find that when my kids can physically check a box or a line to show they did something, they do much better at keeping track of what they have done and those items they have yet to complete.
We actually have created two different forms to help you and your children do just that. One is very basic and is great for younger children. You fill in their name and the chores they need to do on each line. Then, as they do each item, they just place an “X” in the box.
If your children are a bit older, you can use the Responsibility Chart instead. This chart has spaces for the regular chores (Commissions), additional tasks (Bonsues) and areas where they tend to get into trouble (fines). You tally up the income and take away the fines each week and they earn the difference. This chart is created to teach them, well, responsibility in the workplace.
They learn that if they do not complete the work, they do not get paid. They also learn that if they do the wrong thing (like fight or disrespect Mom and Dad), they have a fine. We compare this to speeding or being reckless and causing damage to things. It works well for our kids and they sure hate it when we say the word “FINE”!
If you want even more detailed information into how we use the Responsibility Chart in our home, you can read about that here — Teaching Our Children Financial Responsibility.
3. Check the Chore Charts Daily — Keep Them Easy To See
Whichever chart you opt to use for your kids, make sure your chart is easy to see and complete by your kids. This may mean it takes up permanent residence on your refrigerator. Your kids may have a bulletin board in their bedroom. Wherever you place it does not matter – as long as your kids can see it.
Work with them to learn how to update their chart each night before they go to bed. This helps them end the day seeing all that they were able to do, and ensures that they are working on those weekly items as need be done.
4. Determine the reward or incentive.
Rewards will vary greatly from family to family. For some parents, the chores are required just as part of being a part of the family. They are expected to contribute and there is no reward attached to it. For others, it is simply financial. They pay per chore or per week as the chore charts are completed. Yet, for others, the rewards may be incentive based such as sleepovers, extra time on the game system, etc. The beauty of any good system is that you can make it work for your family.
None of these are right or wrong. You know your kids and your family structure, so you know what you expect and will give in return. A chore chart can serve as incentive and reminder for your kids (and quite possibly, even for you)!
The most important tip is be willing to fail. None of us are perfect and it is easy to try something and find that it doesn’t work. That doesn’t mean you should quit, you may just need to change the chores, or possibly the incentives. Be willing to change it up and you will find something that works for you and makes your kids excited about helping around the house!