Saturday, August 27, 2011

They're Never Too Young to Learn Responsibility

I don't know about anyone else, but I only have two arms and two hands. I have one head, one mouth, two eyes and two ears. I have two legs and two feet. And a brain that feels like its going to explode most of the time. I don't have enough limbs or great enough speed to do everything that needs to be done in the day. And I think God got it right when He made days only 24 hours long. I don't think I could handle them being any longer.

I've been feeling for a while that the kids need more order and discipline in their lives. I don't mean discipline like punishments, I mean it in the sense that they need regiment, a planned persistant constant in their days. I find that when they're on a schedule, they're not so cranky and chaotic. I also have felt that they need to be a little more resonsible for their own actions. I know that the two oldest (the ones I'm currently reffering to) are only 3 and almost 2. However, they're never too young to learn responsibility. They're practicly crying out for it. They love to help. They love to have something that they're individually in charge of. Some may disagree but they love for you to set rules and for them to be praised when they obey. Any kid is like this. Some kids are a little more strong willed than others with an agenda all their own but you will find with any kid, they like to be loved and rewarded for their behavior.

I've been talking to other moms with kids roughly my childrens' ages. Many of them say that they've started keeping charts of their kids' responibilities and good behavior. I think this is a fantastic idea and I'm going to give it a shot. I may tweak things as we go along to figure out what works best with my kids.

I only have 4 chores listed on their chart and each kid will have their own chore within that listing. All chores will be supervised until I feel that they can do it all on their own. On the dry erase board, each kid will have their own color marker and will get a check mark for completing their chore. At the end of the day, we will count up each individuals check marks and put a star on the calendar. Each star color will represent how many check marks they received during the day (I haven't totally figured this one out yet but its where I'm starting). If I have to tell them more than once twice to finish their chore, they don't get a check mark. At the end of the week, each kid will get to draw a reward from the "mystery bag". There will be different mystery bags. The bags will represent rewards appropriate for the number of stars/checks they got during the week. If they only got like 9 stars all week, then they'll pull from the bag with a mediocre reward like picking a movie to watch that night. We watch movies with them often so this isn't that big of a deal. One of the better rewards might be something like going out for ice cream or getting a toy from the dollar store. I think this may get a bit complicated but like I said, I'll figure out what works best as we go.

Feed Dogs: We have 3 dogs. They get fed twice a day, indiviually. My oldest will get to pour their water and the younger will pour the food. Something tells me that this will be a chore that gets supervised until they're about 10 :)

Set/Clear the Table: My youngest (my son) will put placemats and napkins on the table and the oldest (my daughter) will put plates and cups out. I'm not letting them do the silverware because they have a tendancy to use them as poking devices when I'm not looking. If I'm cooking, I really don't feel like having to stop just because some one decided to stab the other with a fork or something. Then, after the meal, my son will remove the placemats and put them in the sink and my daughter will put the plates and cups on the counter.

Pick Up Toys: I'm pretty tired of cleaning up every one elses messes so they need to clean up their own toys. Each kid will have to pick up whatever they were playing with. If they were playing together, they each have to help clean up the same mess.

Clean Bedrooms: I have this separate from "Pick Up Toys" because the toy mess usually takes place in the living room. The bedrooms are disasters of their own. And it doesn't just include toys. They have a tendancy to pull sheets off beds and take the clothes out of the dirty baskets to dress up stuffed animals and much more (its amazing what kinds of messes kids are capable of making). So keeping their rooms clean is a totally different chore. And believe me, the rooms have a new mess every morning. I will go in there to wake them up just to find out that they've been up for an hour already and pulled every toy off the shelf (or in my son's case, every shirt out of the drawer and one time, he even managed to pull the front off the drawer).

Potty: This one is only for my son as we're just now starting to potty train him. Any time he actually uses the potty, he'll get a check mark.

I'm not going to keep track of their time outs or anything because I don't want to dwell on their bad behavior. I only want to praise and reward the good. Eventually, the responsibilities will change and they'll start getting an allowance but for now, stickers, highfives and ice cream will work just fine.

My goal is to teach them to help others, take responsibility for their own actions, to work as a team and work is rewarding. Not gonna lie, it'll be nice when they are old enough to do things like wash dishes and vacuum. Hopefully, this Wannabe Supermom is on her way to being able to relax every once in a while as the kids learn some responsibility.

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