Sunday, January 9, 2011

Motivation Simplified--Part 2

Now, as I mentioned in my last post, some of the household chores can and should be delegated to others who live in the home, especially if those others are children.  If you read my post on "work" awhile back, you know my thoughts on teaching our kids to work.  Dave Ramsey, the financial expert we all recognize from one form of media or another, had this to say in the January/February 2011 issue of Thriving Family magazine:  "Kids need to start learning the virtues of getting a little dirt under their fingernails at a young age.  Making kids work does not constitute child abuse.  Child abuse is letting them lie around playing video games and munching chips all the time!"

So, how do you know which jobs to assign to which child?  Well, no one knows your child like you do.  You have a pretty good idea what they are capable of and what they are responsible enough to do.  Some six-year-olds might be more responsible with an electric vacuum cleaner than some twelve-year-olds.  As they gradually mature, gradually give them jobs that require more responsibility.  Most children want to mature to the next level of responsibility.  It's a sense of accomplishment for them.

Even a toddler can learn to work when a parent hands him a cloth and asks the child to dust the furniture alongside the parent.  There's no reason a toddler shouldn't be expected to put away toys, even if it's with some assistance. 

In the world of adults, work normally has a payoff.  A paycheck, a clean house, the satisfaction of a job well-done.  In fact, if an adult doesn't work, there are negative consequences of some kind.  Why not teach our children this concept?

Younger children often like chore charts with stickers.  And it's even better when there's a bigger reward for completing a predetermined number of days/weeks worth of work--a special treat, an inexpensive toy, getting to watch a certain DVD, etc.  One thing I used to do with Little Mister was to have my "bag of tricks."  It was actually a Target bag filled with inexpensive items I knew he liked, and he earned them.

Now he's "much too old for stickers, Mom."  :)  Instead of a chore chart, I purchased an index card binder, with appropriately sized dividers.  It's divided into morning, afternoon and evening chores.  Each index card has a chore and when he completes one chore, he can flip the card and see what's next.  Actually, there are many cards in there that aren't what you would classify as "chores," but they are reminders of the daily routine--down to things like "brush your teeth."  It helps my energetic boy stay focused! ;)

The items in his book that are truly "chores" earn a "commission."  Not much per job, but it does add up!  Some things he has to do without being paid, to teach him there are some things you do just because you're part of a family, part of a household.  Anyway, the commission is his "allowance," which then we are teaching him to manage.

Simplified motivation is great for kids!  Organizing and rewarding their chores around the house doesn't have to be complicated or expensive.  For the little ones, you can print charts here or here.  An index card binder for older kids can be found at Walmart in the office supplies aisle.  Something completely different might work for you.  Use your imagination! :)

We do, of course, need to be careful not to overload our children.  Giving them jobs we don't like to do isn't exactly the point, either.  Balance, as in most things, is the key.

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