As promised, an update on how things are going in the Smith home with the star charts in iRewardChart, a wonderful iPhone app I highly recommend.
*see my previous post for my original info on this app.*
Its been nearly week now of the new rule that chores MUST be done daily or they lose stars. Things are going quite well, I am happy to say! Stars are being earned quite regularly and are even building up to a level that my daughter has decided to save some to earn a bigger reward!
The way I do it is that I have 2 chore charts for each kid. A chart of “base chores” (mandatory) and a chart of “extra chores” (optional). The “base chores” MUST be completed every day by bedtime or they lose half the stars they might have earned if they had completed them. They earn 6 stars if they complete their base chores, lose 3 stars if they don’t. I didn’t want to take all 6 stars away for non-completion because that could very quickly get very discouraging (we’re trying to motivate here, not discourage), so my husband and I decided on half the stars. Or if they only do part of their chores (which hasn’t happened yet), I may only take away 1 or 2, depending on how much were done. The biggest thing for them is that if they DO their chores, they each get 6 stars.
The amount of chores they have to do is dependent upon their age. My 5yr old has 5 base chores daily and my 10yr old has 10 base chores daily. I’ve worked with the children to determine these chores and I have made sure they know that I am always open to hearing if they would like to swap out chores for more desirable ones. The one stipulation is that if they want to choose to swap an undesirable chore for a more desirable one, it has to be approved by me which means it HAS to still be a chore that will truly help around the house daily. My 10yr old has swapped out a few chores and we’ve had mutual agreement on the changes, so things are going smoothly in that regard.
I also break chores into small, very manageable pieces. So instead of one chore for my 10yr old that would be “do laundry”, I have broken the chore into 5 separate chores:
- Go through the house & get all clothes off floor/put into laundry
- 1 load of laundry in washer & run
- 1 load of laundry from washer to dryer & run
- 1 load of laundry from dryer & sorted
- Fold/put away all your laundry
The rest of her base chores list looks like this:
- Scoop 1 cat box
- Scoop the other cat box
- Sweep the cat bathroom
- Sweep under kitchen table & chairs
- Clear & wipe kitchen table
My 5yr old’s base chores list currently looks like this:
- Put all toys away in play room
- Go through house & find all stray dishes & bring to kitchen
- Go through house & find all stray kid’s books & reshelf
- Make sure cats’ food dish is full & water dish is full of fresh water
- Fold & put away your clean laundry (I still help him w/the folding currently, but he’ll eventually do this completely on his own)
What I’ve noticed from the week of them being forced to do these chores daily is that they quickly learned to not fight the new rule and after initial whining (more from the 5yr old than the 10yr old), they seem very motivated to get their chores done and get their stars and cash them in for computer time. (They get one computer hour for 5 stars.) They’ve quickly figured out that their chores are actually quite easy when done daily because there’s not much to do so long as they stay on top of it! THAT was a wonderful realization for us all, let me tell you!
And my house is less messy and their having to work every day is motivating ME to get MY work done daily!
There are also quite a few behaviors on the chart that I regularly use as motivation or punishment. For example, for about 5 days in a row Tyren lost a star in the “no hitting” category. He tends to hit (though not actually hard, more of a swat, but it has to stop) his sister when he’s frustrated with her. Over time, I’m hoping this will help curb this behavior. He’s a stubborn one so I think it will take some time with him.
Also interesting is that both the kids are motivated lately to make a show of kindness & helpfulness now and then because they will then get even more stars. They do ask for them after doing something kind/helpful, and while that’s not what I was looking for…I am still of the mindset that no matter what the motivation, they are still getting the experience in being kind & helpful and hopefully this will lead to intrinsic motivation.
It simply feels good to be kind, so I think this will be a natural progression over time. For now, the threat of losing stars has sometimes deterred some unwanted behavior, and sometimes motivated positive behavior.
I’ll wean them off the stars as time goes on and I see more and more intrinsic motivation happening. For now, the iRewardChart star system is working well for us.
Next, once the routine is in place for getting chores done, which will probably be in the next week or 2, I will focus more on the school work on the star chart. I don’t yet require specific things daily of them, but that’s going to change. I plan to implement the same system for the school work as the base chores requirement. Losing stars for work not completed. But I wanted to tweak this system and have it work well with the chores before I instituted this. So, more updates to come! 🙂