If chore charts are so effective, why don’t more parents use them? It’s because parents don’t know how to make chore charts work. They try them once, they don’t work, and then abandon the idea that chore charts work.
Chore charts work when you have a plan and when you are consistent with that plan. The following things make chore charts work:
1. Choose chores/tasks that are doable and age appropriate. This includes making sure you can monitor their progress. Giving tasks that are doable instills confidence in your child.
2. Creating a system for following up on the chore and reporting the chore as done. For some families it’s having mom or dad sign off on a task individually before a chore can be marked as done. Other families allow children to sign off on task on their own with mom or dad checking on all completed chores at the end of the day. Either way works. The important thing is determining which works best for your family.
3. Be descriptive and specific in what you want them to do. “Clean your room” most likely has a different meaning for you then it does for your child. If a task has too many components, it’s best to make each component its own separate chore. For “clean your room” the daily chores could be: make your bed, pick up toys, put dirty clothes in the hamper. While the weekly chores could be: vacuum the floor, dust the bookshelf, etc. Creating smaller chores allows your child to keep from becoming too overwhelmed and give up in frustration.
4. Follow through with rewards and punishment. Having a reward system in place allows your child to see they are getting something out of doing their chores and using the chart. Rewards don’t always have to be monetary. In fact, some children can be better motivated by increased screen or play time, choosing family activities, or having access to the family car. It’s also important to make sure that when chores aren’t done that consequences are in place, are doable, and matches the scope of the missed chore. Grounding your child for a week because they didn’t do one of their chores is not only excessive, your child knows you won’t stick with it and will become less likely to do their chores in the future.
5. Involve your child in the planning process. Sitting down with your child and letting them know you’ll be using chore charts and having them help decide rewards and consequences allows them to be more invested in actually using the charts. They’ll also normally suggest things for rewards and consequences that matter to them. Discussing beforehand allows your child to become accustomed to the idea, which may be especially helpful for a child who dislike change or things being sprung upon them.
Reward charts are also great for tracking and improving behavior. Using the same principles above, you can focus on helping your child improve or change their behavior. These charts can be used both on young children and teenagers.
You can find a variety of free printable chore charts that are sure to please even the most unwilling participant on SmarterParenting.com.