One of the reasons I love Christmas so much is the idle-threat use of ‘Santa is watching.’ As in, “Santa knows if you’ve been bad or good and he sees you doing that.” “Santa keeps his naughty and nice list. Is your behavior naughty or nice right now?” The power of those statements in our house is really unparalleled. The problem is when Christmas floats away onto last year’s calendar and we are 11 months from the next gift-laden holiday, I don’t dare use the “Santa is watching” threat lest I find myself ready to field the wish list requests for longer than I must. I can’t imagine doing an ‘only 326 more days until Christmas’ countdown every night starting in January. No way. So, I am left powerless. My own threats of losing DS, TV, bikes, etc. are relatively effective, but often lead to a choice of bad behavior over the hostage-threatened item just for a good mom-child throw-down.
HOWEVER, I have discovered a new jackpot. This one, so far, is proving to be more golden than Santa.
A chore/reward chart.
I know I am a bit behind the times on this and many parents have been doing it for years, but OHMYWORD I didn’t know how effective this could be. HOLYMOLY my kids have NEVER been so eager to earn their checkmarks for their daily functions. Our daily chores consist of these:
- Set the Dinner Table
- Make your Bed
- Practice Printing/Math/Reading (it is summer, so we all need a little incentive to take time to do this now)
- Put away your clean laundry
- Put away all my toys
Okay, so admittedly, I just implemented this plan this week. We will see how it progresses, but the idea
Brian I had was that each time they complete one of these tasks, they earn a checkmark. The above list may seem a bit undemanding to many of you, but I have 5 and 6-year-old boys and this is what I would like to get from them each day WITHOUT complaint. If they complain about the task, they do not earn a checkmark. If they do not perform to my standards, they do not earn a checkmark. After 18 checkmarks they earn a $3 allowance (5 and 6 year olds, remember, $3 is the equivalent of a sports car forcyrinoutloud – preferably paid in change so it looks like even more to them). They have been asking for some small action figure type toys lately, so Brian I thought this a good way to let them earn the money themselves since we don’t like to buy them toys without cause.
The drawback. Based on their historical chore-related habits, I really thought that they would earn 18 checkmarks every 10-14 days and this would have been a radical turnaround in their behavior. In the first day, my kids earned FIVE checkmarks. Gavin even cried when he got home yesterday when he learned the basement was all cleaned up in his absence. This may cost me a bit more than I had realized.
Of the above tasks, the one that is working out THE BEST for Brian and me – EXTRAS. This is a very subjective area for anything above and beyond that we think earns them a check. OHMYHOLYWORD you can’t believe the power of this so far. It has my boys tripping over their feet to open my door first, to pour my cereal, to take my plate to the kitchen sink, to lick the very stinking floor I am about to walk across. HOLYCHILDSLAVELABOR, BATMAN this has even me feeling a bit guilty. Because so far, I can’t really justify any one of these small acts as enough to earn a checkmark. But, I am loving it. Yesterday, as we were leaving the house to go to dinner, I called for Grant to come ONCE AGAIN and get in the car. I threatened for him to lose a checkmark (another bonus for Mom and Dad) if he can’t listen. He came running and when I inquired as to what he was doing upstairs when I CLEARLY stated it was time to go before he ascended the steps, he replied, “making the bed.” I told him he already earned his checkmark for making his bed and he couldn’t earn another in one day for the same task. He replied, “No, Mommy, YOUR bed.” Oh yes, he did.
Umm yeah, this is gonna work out just fine.