During Christmas break my kids became whiny, greedy, TV-watching zombie monsters and I knew I needed to reign them in. I’d been searching for a way to easily manage behavior and chores. Key word: EASILY.
My kids have been asking for an allowance and I wanted a way to “pay” them for chores that would also allow them to save up and buy prizes/treats (instead of me throwing a cake pop or toy at them every time we go to Target). I wanted them to start learning the value of earning, saving, and spending.
So what’s a weary mom to do? Turn to good ole Facebook, of course. Well my trusty friends on Facebook really came through with lots of ideas for behavior and chore management. My friend Jessica explained how she’s used poker chips with her three kids for a few years. Poker chips? Interesting!
It goes a little something like this-
Each kid starts out with ZERO chips. They earn them for certain chores and good behaviors that I’m looking for. Different tasks and behaviors earn them different amounts of chips. First time listening is really important to me, so it’s worth more chips than taking out the trash (though that’s important and helpful, also!).
My kids were also getting into a bad habit of really drawing out bedtime and making it quite the nightmare. Easy bedtime and/or staying in your bed all night is also rewarded nicely.
On the other hand, they lose chips for negative behaviors. Whining, arguing, difficult bedtime, saying potty words, etc. will cost you.
The kids each have their own $1 plastic container for storing the chips they’ve earned.
So now that they’ve earned some chips, they can redeem them for prizes. As you can see, my TV zombies have to “pay” me three tokens to watch 30 minutes of TV. I’ve even made a bedtime back rub a prize. This might sound harsh, but it was really becoming a problem. If they want a bigger prize/treat/experience, they have to save up. Julia and Mac worked really hard to save 10 chips each to earn a trip to the Gulfarium.
I’m sure you’ll also notice getting dressed, brushing teeth, saying please and thank you (among others) aren’t on the chart. I figure that if you’re a member of our family, those things are expected of you. My hope is that the other chores will also become second-nature as productive members of our family, but for now, they need to be taught and reinforced.
We’ve been using this system about a month and it’s going great! For reference, Julia is 5.5 and Mac is nearly 4. It took a little while for him to catch on, but now he’s totally got it. He often blows through his chips as quick as he gets them, while Julia saves hers.
They also love counting their chips each time they earn more. It’s a great teaching tool, also!
I spent the first week adding and taking away tasks and behaviors from the chart and reassigning their point values until I figured out what worked for us. I love this system because it’s totally customizable (My computer tells me that is not actually a word? It should be.)! You could use marbles or any other small token. For their ages and stages, I like that it’s not actual money with different values…that would be a bit too much for me to keep up with at this point.
So there you have it! I know there are a million systems out there for managing chores and behavior. I hope you’ll find one that works for your family. This system is really going well for us.
And before I forget, I found the poker chips in the board game and playing cards section at Walmart.