Wednesday, April 2, 2008


Parenting Pointers Post #1 ~ Help for the frazzled mom!

One of my friends asked me to do a weekly parenting blurb and so from now on Wednesday's are going to be my Parenting Pointers Post. Not because I have it all figured out, OH NO, not even close... (is THAT even possible?) but because I have been a long time advocate of Dr. Glenn Latham and his parenting book The Power of Positive Parenting. It is THEE best book ever written on parenting (well, with the exception of the scriptures!) and I honestly believe if every parent read this book, the world would change because he bases his philosophy on focusing on the positive and so it is the PARENT that has to do the changing. It is also based on the scientific data of behavior and it works like magic! I will use his book to give hints and helps for the frazzled mom! Today's post however is not from his book. I had already started it but I will add some of his quotes at the end.


I know I am not alone when I say it is a CHORE for US to keep our children on task with THEIR tasks. And we don't even get stickers for doing it! Teaching kids responsibility has to be one of the hardest things we as mothers do. Due to my involvement with the great organization American Mothers, Inc.,(click for more info) I have had many opportunities to speak with other mothers across my state and even nation at times. And the one thing that is always at the top of the list when it comes to moms wanting help and solutions is TEACHING KIDS TO WORK. I have found the hardest thing in achieving success with this principle is the fact that each child is so different and what works for one won't always work for the others. There are a brazillion chore charts out there and ways of keeping track, and sometimes it takes trying out HALF a brazillion of those just to find the one that works best for you. And just when you do, it seems you arrive at the spot I am at now...KIDS are OLDER and VERY BUSY and have outside JOBS and LOTS OF FRIENDS and are GONE A LOT and basically don't have much TIME to accomplish all we expect them to do. But just because their time is decreased doesn't mean the work load is decreased. I have always been one of those moms that has to have a chore chart of some kind or a way of accountability for my boys. I have never believed in paying them for doing their household jobs because I feel that they are part of a family and need to help out just because of THAT reason. BUT, I also think they need to earn money somehow so they can learn how to manage money. My solution was to pay them for EXTRA jobs that needed to be done. I set a price and made a list and when they wanted or needed to earn some extra cash, they could pick one of those. I also decided to pay them for MARKING their chore charts (or Responsibility Records as we call them). The older they got, the more often they would forget to mark them even if they did the job. It was making more work for me because I had to constantly ask if they were done. I think just the act of marking them shows a great deal of responsibility. They could do all their jobs, but if they forgot to mark the chart, then they didn't get paid. This was a win-win for all, because it also gave them an incentive to remember to mark them and. I didn't always have to ask if they were done or not. I think one of the BEST reasons for having a chart of some kind is the simple reason that when they want those privileges, like playing with a friend, watching a movie, playing a video game, or computer time, and they come to me and ask if they can, I am able to simply answer back, "I don't know, can you? What does your chart say?" That way I am not the heavy. The chart is. And ultimately they learn that the answer rests solely on their shoulders. It has worked great for us. Just by simply letting the consequences do the talking. We sometimes tend to forget that consequences are good. When we let the consequence work for us, we are simply training our children to make right choices. When we nag or yell, we are not training our children, well maybe we are, but not in the way we want to! However, when we enforce a consequence, we train our child to make right choices. Now, I know this is easier said than done. I know firsthand it isn't a fast or easy process, it takes time, and lots of it! But eventually we will reap the benefits.

I feel like I have always had a pretty good handle on what my boys are required to do as their daily jobs. But recently things were just getting out of control it seemed. Their chores were not getting done and that left a bigger load on me. I know it was mostly my fault for not following through consistently and making sure things got done before they were allowed privileges. The current chart we were using lost it's umph I guess. I had been using it for years because it worked so well. But I also know you need to keep things fresh and continually find ways to motivate them. I really didn't want to switch my "system" but I finally relented after picking up umpteen pair of shoes and towels each and every day, and walking past their rooms (because I couldn't walk IN their rooms since there appeared to be no floor!) sighing as I closed the door again. I knew it was time for a change. I wasn't sure what to do because two of them are teenagers and think they are too mature for a job chart. That may have been part of the problem with the old system. They just thought they were too old. BUT, you are never too old for a job list! I still have one for myself! (see below) For my boys, I decided to adapt an idea I saw from my sister-in-law Cindi. (Thanks Cindi!) It is a magnet board with the chores listed on small magnets and it has a DO and a DONE side. When they have DONE the chore they slide it over on that side. Pretty simple and very visual for me as well as them. I made one up for my boys and this week we have been putting it to the test. I know you have to give these things at least two weeks to fully sink in and work out all the bugs. So far, so good. I also put it on my fridge where it is VERY noticeable and a constant reminder what needs to be done.

Is it easier at times to just close their bedroom door or do it yourself because it is so much faster? Yes! It may be easier but in the long run, it will be much more valuable if we have taken the time to teach them responsibility. In fact there are some startling results from the University of Minnesota where researchers studied a group of young men and women from the time they were young children. The study showed that young adults, who had participated in household chores when they were age 3 and 4, were more successful as adults than those who didn't. Specifically, these young adults were more likely to complete their education, get a good start on a career, develop adult relationships, and avoid the use of drugs. The early participation in household chores was deemed more important in their success than any other factor, including IQ! On the other hand, if children did not begin participating in household chores until they were teenagers, the experience seemed to backfire, and had a negative effect on their success as young adults, using those same measures. Our children have a strong need for a sense of belonging and want to be a productive member of our family. Giving them household responsibilities provides them with a huge boost in confidence. It says to them, "My parents think I am capable of doing this!" Any amount of effort on our part will only come back to reward US in the end. Tell me what works for you.

This is the system I used for years
They were charged maid service if I had to do their jobs.

The new system....

Closer view

They are UNPLUGGED from the computer, TV, Game boy, all video games, IPODS, and friends UNTIL they have them all on the DONE side.
This is something I did while my oldest was on his mission to motivate them to keep certain zones clean. It was kinda fun for a while.
Other incentives I have used:
Nintendo passes good for 15 min. of play time (these had to be earned)
Bed Bucks (they got these if they were the first one asleep each night)

Cooperation Station
This file also keeps jobs they "get" to do for not cooperating i.e. fighting with sibs, etc.
I wanted to stay positive, so it also had reward cards in it for when they did cooperate.

Un-cooperation jobs

Reward cards

"MY" household management cards
I have LOVED this system!  I have never found another one that works so well to keep me up on things that need to get done.  This system is totally personal for my house, but you can make your own and personalize it easily.

My weekly and daily jobs

My monthly and semi-annual jobs
I think I deserve some reward cards in here too! ☺
I would love to hear what system you use and how it works.

Research has shown that the most effective way to reduce problem behavior in children is to strengthen desirable behavior through positive reinforcement rather than trying to weaken undesirable behavior using aversive or negative processes. S.W. Bijou
  • Behavior is strengthened or weakened by its consequences.
  • Behavior ultimately responds better to positive consequences.
  • Whether a behavior has been punished or reinforced is known only by the course of that behavior in the future.
  • Behavior is largely a product of it's immediate environment.
    here for Dr. Lathams Parenting Prescription's website


deb said...

I am so excited to try some of this stuff on my kids. Chore wars is exactly what it feels like to me! Thanks SO very much for sharing. Hope it works for me too.
Can't wait for next Wed.

deb said...

Oh- I forgot to ask how they earned the Nintendo passes?

Karen said...

I am soooo excited for Wednesday's now!!! You know me, I am always up for parenting advice and tips. I am glad to hear you still expect your teens to do household jobs, mine think they are the only ones!!! I love the magnet board, I am going to try it. Thanks again, Karen

Yvonne said...

What great ideas! Thanks. You are so right about the need to teach them responsibility. (I love the accountability aspect, too ; )

You are certainly organized--wow!

I know I will love coming here every Wednesday. Thanks.

I use the sidetrack home executives method for keeping the house organized. It has worked for me.

Jodi said...

Deb - They earn the Nintendo passes by doing their jobs. One pass is worth 15 min of play time. You can decide how many jobs per pass, depending on how much time you WANT them to potentially have!

Karen - I know but it's still so hard for them (busy teens)to find the time to get it all done! But they might as well learn that lesson now, since that is basically how it's going to be for the rest of their lives right?

Yvonne- I love the Sidetrack Home Executives too! I met Pam when she was traveling with the Flylady. They both spoke at our American Mothers convention. They are great women!

Jen said...

You're such a SuperMom! I like the chore chart idea and it seems to work well. This year I found an online one that is really fun for little kids. They they have a cat and when they do chores (that you customize) they earn outfits for their cats. There's a cute little town they can play in when all their chores are done and because it's on the computer, they love to mark them off! There's also an option to redeem points they earn for online stuff, but we haven't done any of that yet. It's found at As for me, well you are SO organized. I just seem to get done what needs it the most. Guess I need to get better at that one.
Thanks for doing this! I always need a Dr. Lathem reminder and boost!

Christie said...

These were so great! I especially love the idea of charging maid service if they don't do their jobs. Mine might be getting that bill here soon.

Thanks for stopping by my blog and for your sweet words!

Tiffany said...

I love these ideas!!! I will have to try them when my little guys are older. Right now it's "If you don't pick up your toys, you don't get to play with playdough" or whatever it is they want to do next. It seems to work. And yes, I did write that poem 3y/o son.

EarlGirl said...

Wow, filling out their own chart is brilliant! We have an accountability board,and they got paid based on performance. If they miss too many chores in a week, they end up paying us. They get a huge bonus if they get a perfect week, and a treat for finishing early in the day.

Anonymous said...

These are great ideas. Anything to help keep the order and peace. I can't wait to try the magnet board and passes. Thanks so much for sharing! Your'e great!

The Hoyt's said...

I really loved your ideas. This is something we have struggled with. My kids dont work. And we have been trying diffrent things but i end up not staying persistent so they are not learning anything. I would like more info on you magnent chart. I couldnt read your un cooperation jobs or the monthly and semi annual jobs. Can you give me some ideas you used for jobs and where you got your magnents you put the jobs on. Im excited to start using one.

Holly said...

Mine are 7 and 9 and I try and shut their doors but I end up going in and tidying things myself. I've tried so many things and it all works for a while. It all falls back on me and my lack of consistency.

I'm curious to go through your list more thoroughly and see what I can try...


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