When you are serious about getting something done some type of hands-on tool, to show progress and/or areas that need improvement, can go a long way in helping you achieve that goal. While this is true in many settings and scenarios, today we will focus on getting chores done. Having a chore chart is a great way to let every member of a household know what is expected of him/her. This may also help stop disputes about “I do more than anyone else” and “it isn’t fair” that Joe NEVER has to clean the bathroom, or a million of the other complaints we have all heard from our children, teens, or other household members.
Responsibility is a great way to teach self-esteem, self-discipline, and provide a way for all members of the household to participate in adding value to the household. Chores can start at a very young age, a 1 or 2 year old can follow very basic directions, like put all your shoes in this box, all your clothes in this bin, and all your toys in this basket. Letting them take this responsibility, and then put a sticker or mark next to a picture of clothes, toys, or shoes can teach them valuable lessons that they will use the rest of their lives.
As your children grow and develop, your chore charts will obviously take on a new look and meaning. Some things will stay basically the same, such as “keeping your room in a neat, clean, and orderly manner” other things may change weekly, monthly, or on another schedule that works best for your household situation. Some of the key features of having a successful chore chart arrangement include:
- Specific chore instructions- this includes how the chore is stated, for example “clean the living room” is not very specific. If your chore chart states something like “Clean the living room, including dusting furniture, vacuuming floor, and putting away all loose items”, this would be much more specific and leave less room for argument. Otherwise you are bound to hear, “I am the only one that ever dusts” or “Jenny didn’t put the movies away last week, so why should I have to”. The more specific the instructions are the better.
- Frequency- this may vary with the chore. “Clean up dinner dishes” may be applicable everyday, as well as “keeping room clean and orderly”, other things like doing your laundry, changing your sheets, mopping the kitchen floor, may only be done once or twice a week. Make sure your chore charts are very specific in this area as well.
- Rewards and/or consequences– in some household there are no “rewards” for doing your chores, it is simply part of living in the household. Other households feel that learning to see good consequences from making good choices is important and will implement a “reward system” with their chore charts. This may include something like, if you complete all your chores on time for a week, or month, we will all go out for ice cream. Regardless of whether you choose to implement a reward system, consequences for NOT completely a chore is essential. The last thing you need is a daily argument about getting chores done. If your chore chart simply states something like any chores not completed by 9 pm on day assigned will result in ______ (and have a specific consequence (person being grounded the next day, additional chore being added for a week, loss of certain privileges, etc.), use whatever fits best with the people in your household.
Obviously your chore charts will vary depending on the age range of the children and teens in your household and the needs of your household. Just remember that to have a successful experience you need to make sure that all your expectations and consequences are clearly outline and understood by all participants, as with any child behavior contract or parent contract. The earlier you start and the more involved you are the less likely you are to end up with troubled teens that are violent, addicted to drugs, or in need of a military school program just to help them finish their basic high school education. Visit childbehaviorcharts.com to download a sample chart today.