Friday, July 25, 2008


Chip and I have been lax about having the kids clean up after themselves. I know that sounds like lazy parenting, but really it’s just an overall laziness- Chip and I are lax about picking up after ourselves. I always seem to remember that the kids should have picked up their toys way after they’ve already gone to bed or to school. So I just leave them there, thinking I’ll remind them to pick up their toys some other time. Long story short, my house is generally pretty messy.

I came across this chore chart the other day and realized it was time for me to do something. Connor is about to start kindergarten and it would help him to have some sense of responsibility. I’d hate for him to just show up and drop his backpack in the middle of floor, expecting someone else to hang it up. I printed off the chart and the pictures and developed a system that would work for us- a few simple chores, things that he should be doing anyway. Since the chart started on a Monday, I spent the days leading up trying to explain to Connor what was coming.

“You’ll have responsibilities and as you remember to do them you’ll get a sticker. At the end of the week, you’ll get a nickel for each sticker. Your own money! Then when we go to Target on Saturdays you’ll have money to buy stuff with rather than just begging us for toys we’re never going to buy!”

You’d think this would thrill him. Stickers! Money! Target! Instead, he let out a long wail, buried his head in my chest, and sobbed. It’s not uncommon for him to react negatively to something new, but this was a little over the top. Eventually he calmed down enough to spell out the problem.

“I don’t want to give my money to the people at Target!”

Wow- I laughed just typing that! At the time, I tried my hardest to keep a straight face and explain to him about a market economy, trading currency for products, etc. I told him that if he wants to keep the money in his Superman wallet forever, that no one is stopping him. But that his money will be there as an option if he ever finds himself “needing” a toy that I have no intention of buying for him. He continued to whimper, however, at the thought of giving his money to the cashier and then not having it anymore- even if he got a toy in exchange.

By the time Monday rolled around, Connor had gotten into the idea of being rewarded monetarily for completing simple tasks. With little prodding, he has remembered what to do with his dirty dishes and clothes and has even started taking pride in setting a nice table for dinner. But what he hasn’t yet gotten a sticker for is putting away his toys before bedtime. After putting the kids to bed, Chip and I inevitably trip over some toy and then start pointing fingers over who was supposed to remind Connor to clean it up. Then we leave it right where we found it, so we can remind him to pick it up some other time.


Stacey Greenberg said...

i don't want to give my money to target either!!

cjaxon said...

what they don't point out to you when you are sending your kids off to school is that they LISTEN TO EVERYTHING A TEACHER SAYS. I started asking Katie if she would talk to her teacher the way she talks to me? or leave stuff laying on the floor at school? OH NO ... of course she wouldn't. GRRRRRRR! I wanna know how they instill the fear of God in those kids and still make them adore them???

Stanfill said...

being a teacher of k/1 children, i will say that these kids (to an extent) are eager to please. once they see their peers being praised for doing "the right thing", the young ones can't get enough of that external validation. of course, this isn't the way it is for all children. however, us teachers will take what we can get.