Not only is it good for us as adults to have a fresh start in the coming New Year but it can also be a refreshing time for our kids too. It is a great time to re-evaluate what we are doing as parents that is working with our kids and even what isn't working.
Because what worked at one stage of life may not be necessary anymore as these kids they just keep on growing!
One thing that has worked well for us is our kids responsibility charts. They understand what they are responsible for each day (which is individually tailored to each child) like perhaps cleaning the bathroom and they are learning to love the satisfaction that comes from a job well done and from contributing to family life...not to mention receiving those shiny coins at the end of the week. The "twins" (who are 5 and almost 5...confusing, right?) are asking all of the time when they are going to get to help out with a specific job around the house. I've been brainstorming ideas that they might be able to do and once we make a decision we'll for sure use this method to teach them whatever that might be.
The most significant addition to our charts is that our youngest (who recently turned three) now has one of his very own. He is actually pretty thrilled. You don't know how many times I've almost said to him, "If you don't pick up your toys you will lose a smiley face."
Wait, he doesn't have smiley faces...
Phew...we can all be on the same page and mommy can stop being confused. Because really he does understand the concept now that he has seen us do it with the other kids for years now.
Oh and after MUCH research we have decided that three is the best age for children to start using these charts. Ok, so our research simply included having our other four kids start using these two years ago when our family grew (we would have tried just about anything to survive!) and our twins (who were three at the time) started then.
It was a bit of a rocky start for them but by age four and now five they really get it.
So you see...three is a great age to start. ;-)
I say all of this not to overwhelm you by any means. Our job as parents is hard enough. I don't believe that this system is the only way and we should never do anything that we feel we "should" be doing. I mainly talk about this because it is something that we found worked well for our family to intentionally teach kids some of the things that we value as a family and want to share some of the process to hopefully inspire some ideas for others.
With any system like this consistency is really going to be key. And sure there are plenty of days where I forget all about the smiley faces but there are also plenty of days that I remember them. Because at the end of the week we don't want to reward bad behavior with shiny coins. Actually, now that I think about it, it almost feels like using a coupon at a store and saving money when I remember to take down a smiley face. If I'm consistent with taking down smiley faces and the kids end up not getting their bonus at the end of the week then I see it as $1.50 saved for later and my kids learning a valuable lesson. :-)
Oh and they are hanging on the wall in a straight line now (so modern and all) ;-)...all five of them.
I'm scheming up a better system to organize their shiny coins and I'll be back with all of those details once the project is finished!
Here's the deal: it's not really about the coins or about the smiley faces but about what we're teaching kids through talking about the things that we're putting on the board. If what you measure matters then it's really important to think through what we're trying to teach our kids through the different responsibilities and expectations we are measuring and talking with them about them consistently (and modeling!?!) so that it makes sense why it's on the board and what it has to do with what's important in life. There are many ways to do that with clarity and consistency, but this is one of the ways that has really helped us begin to teach our kids some important values that we hope will be part of their lives as they are a part of ours.
Have you been using a system that works for your crew?