CHORE STICKS & BEHAVIOR PUFFS
This is not a post about being gluten free, or having Celiac. I just found this to be the best avenue to share a chore chart type system that is working for our family.
Do you find that the store-bought chore charts are just too vague for your children? This usually ensues in a bunch of arguing, negotiating, and weaseling out of doing things right? I always have good intentions but who is a chore chart really benefit? The parents. Most are boring and most really do not do a good job of giving instructions for kids to just have it black and white.
I wanted something that taught my kids that I expect good behavior. I expect respect, responsibility, and expect overall good judgement when possible. I wanted to teach that we are a family unit, family team and overall work together to keep the house, family, life going together. So there are items you just do because you are part of the family. There are chores you do to earn money. There are things you want to earn to save up for. There are things that are expected of you to learn and grow. There are things you must do to just function.
I was tired of yelling (yep I’m guilty of that), and of asking my kids 100 times in the morning to brush their teeth, make their beds, hang up their pj’s. All basic things I ask every.single.day! I tried making check lists, tried making erasable charts, tried store-bought charts but they all fizzled out within days.
A friend of mine posted on Facebook an idea about giving marbles in a jar for good behavior. That got me thinking….how can I combine all the things we expect from our kids, with behaviors we would like to improve? Oh and can’t use marbles with a young child (I kept picturing an ER visit if one happened to get swallowed or stuck somewhere it shouldn’t).
I started with jars labeled with each child’s name. My kids are ages 2 1/2, 5 1/2 and almost 8. I wrote out the rules (this is important if you have a negotiator or manipulator in the mix of kids). Who doesn’t? So everything is spelled out and available for review at any time.
I’m sure you have children that may have the following super adorable traits (hopefully not all at once, and probably not due to any parenting flaws at all). Lying, arguing with your siblings, arguing with your parents, talking back, not doing what you were asked, being asked to do something 100 times a day, taking forever to get ready in the morning, manipulating you to the point that you forgot what you were asking them to do in the first place…etc. etc.
My kids knew that you get puffs for the following behaviors:
- You are nice to your brother
- You help out your brother
- You complement your brother
- You say yes mom or yes dad when asked to do something
- You are kind
- You are respectful
- You do something you are asked by an adult the first time
- You don’t talk back
- You do extra chores
- You are being especially good!
Here’s how you lose a puff:
- You are mean
- You are unkind
- You talk back
- You are disrespectful
- You are hurtful or say hurtful things about or to your brothers
Here’s how you lose your entire jar of puffs:
These are behaviors we cannot tolerate in our house (my husband and I picked out two):
- Hitting your brothers
What’s the full jar worth?
Sit down with your spouse or significant other and decide what that jar is worth to you and your family. We decided the full jar is worth $10 towards a fun treat or a toy. You can choose to use that money/or treat immediately upon filling the jar, or save towards a bigger item. (Teaching delayed gratification). I would like to put a picture of the bigger item on the back of the jar for a visual goal for the kids.
Now here’s the other rule. If the jar is empty you get NO screen time. No TV, no movies, no computer, no kindle…you get the point. In order to get screen time there are rules on the chores stick. Certain items must be done first. Then you can “buy” screen time for 3 puffs. You can each give 1 puff for a total of 3 and work together on a computer game, or watch a movie together. Or 1 brother can pay for all 3 puffs and buy a movie for the whole family. I’ve seen some very sweet gestures of “buying” a movie for the whole family this way. That melted my heart.
CHORE STICK JAR
Next I wanted to stop saying the same things over and over again every single morning, night, day, etc. So I created the chore stick jar.
You create a jar for each child that you are going to have do chores/responsibilities. My youngest isn’t 3 yet and can’t read, so we decided to wait on him for a bit. So we made two jars labeled with each of their names and their rules. Again, nothing can be negotiated because “it says it right on the jar”. It also helps those younger kids start to read.
- 1 jar for each child
- Done Jar
- Extra Chore Jar
Onto the rules in each jar.
All RED sticks must be done before you eat breakfast.
All ORANGE sticks done before you get your weekly allowance.
All BLUE, PURPLE, and RED before any screen time.
All PURPLE & YELLOW sticks must be done twice a week.
Any GREEN stick will be done for extra puffs or extra allowance.
Everything will be checked by mom or dad.
Here’s how we did our jar. Feel free to make it any way you want.
I chose red as the items I need done every single day. These RED items need to be done before breakfast. No breakfast until items are checked off by mom or dad.
Examples of RED STICKS for us:
- Brush your teeth
- Hang up your pj’s
- Sunscreen (this was an argument every single morning in the summer before camp-making us late)
- Set the breakfast table
- Make your bed
- Clean up your room
Examples of YELLOW sticks:
These are family duty sticks (things we just do to help out the family with basic things).
- Empty dishwasher (since dad washes dishes and mom cooks= team effort)
- Set the dinner table
Example of PURPLE sticks for us:
Purple for us is education extracurriculars.
Remember to always be specific.
- 20 minutes to practice piano
- 20 minutes of Korean lessons
Examples of BLUE sticks for us:
- (2) 15 minutes of reading a book (I broke this down into smaller sessions and they can choose to read at once or two different times)
- 4 pages of a scholastic workbooks
- Finish Homework (which will be daily thing once school is back in session)
Examples of ORANGE sticks for us:
Orange for us is chores they get paid to do around the house.
- Take out the trash
- Sweep the floors
- Vacuum the upstairs
- Put laundry away
- (2) Clean up the toys in the living room-each child has 2 of these sticks. So during the course of a week it gets done 4 times for chores and is also in the extra chore jar too.
Examples of GREEN sticks for us:
Green is extra chores that deserve extra puffs or extra allowance.
- Clean out the car
- Organize the shoes in the garage (because we are always missing one shoe)
- Clean up the living room without being asked
- Vacuum the basement
- Vacuum the main floor
- Dust a floor
- Water the garden
There are a million different ways to organize the colors for your families needs and what chores you want your children to do. I just thought of my most difficult times and when I waste the most time arguing and begging them to do the basic things I need done. For us nighttime is not a big fight, so putting a nighttime stick (brush teeth, bath etc.) wasn’t necessary, but may be for you!
My kids are learning:
- Delayed gratification (do I use my puffs reward of $10 now or build up for a bigger item).
- Sharing and taking care of your family members (should I buy the movie or screen time for everyone?)
- Family duties to keep the family running smoothly (yellow sticks)
- Potential to control your ability to earn more (doing extra chores)
- Responsibility and accountability
- Going out of their way to be encouraging and helpful to their siblings
- Changing bad habits of talking back, telling lies, etc. but reinforcing the good behavior
What I’ve learned.
- I’ve learned to recognize all the good things my kids do on a daily basis. From helping their brother get ready for meals, to including them in games, giving up a turn for a sibling not to cry etc.
- I’ve learned that when they have no puffs in the jar there is no argument and they go outside and play since they have no screen time.
- I don’t have to argue about getting ready in the morning.
- I’ve seen brothers sharing puffs to do something together.
- I’ve seen the devastation of losing 1/2 a jar of hard-earned puffs and teaching a valuable lesson to the child that never cared to lose anything else before.
- I’ve learned to be accountable and follow through when my children do the same.
- I’ve seen the sense of accomplishment written across their faces in smiles.
- I am teaching by example.
3 large mason jars
4 small mason jars
Printer or paper and markers to make rules
I used glass paint markers to write their names on the big jars!
Have fun and I can’t wait to hear how things are going!