Update on the Chores Chart: Motivating Kids to Help Work Around the House

Faithful readers will remember that a month or so ago, I worked on a Chores Chart for my family. Denisa and I wanted to get TRC and DC to be more actively involved in doing the housework, since they were both already very actively involved in causing the need for housework. The result is detailed in this post.

At the time, I was worried that perhaps the chart was too challenging. After all, it’s in addition to the goal chart I make each month (current kid goals: practice piano every day, write in their journal once a week, speak Slovak to Denisa). Would we just be overwhelming the poor tykes with too much Responsibility?

It’s now been over six weeks(!), and I think I can return to the subject with a preliminary report.

It’s been awesome.

The kids do their chores cheerfully and when asked. Their rooms are cleaner, the house is cleaner, and Denisa and I have a bit more free time. Really, we just wonder why we didn’t make the chart sooner.

I think a large part of the chart’s success can be traced to a few things I did right, for once. First of all, the kids were involved in the making of the chart. I gave them a chance to offer input, and we revised it as a family until we got it to a point that we were all happy with it. The kids felt ownership.

Second, the chart includes jobs for everyone in the family, not just kids. TRC likes to remind me when I’ve forgotten to do a chore. (Go figure.) They see us contributing to the chores, and so it makes sense to them that they should contribute, too. (My kids are still young enough that they want to be able to do everything adults do, after all. Even if that “everything” includes chores. Let’s hope this early training keeps them open to this idea once they’re teenagers . . .)

Third, the chart is placed in a prominent position. Front and center, right on the fridge. I print out four or five at a time, and then each week just take off the old chart, revealing the new chart beneath it.

Fourth, I actually cross things off the chart when they’re done, and we do this every day. This is different than the goal sheet, where simple “x”s are placed in boxes. It’s also different than having a single chart that tells who has to do each chore, but stays put week after week. With a chart like that, it begins to get easier to ignore it. If something doesn’t get crossed off the list, it’s noticeable. The kids see it. We see it. And so it gets crossed off the next day, once it’s done.

Fifth, I have great kids. There’s no debate about that. (At least, there better not be.) 🙂

I thought I’d have to revise the list. I haven’t had to touch it. So . . . yay for something that worked on the first try for once!

Any questions?

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