Charts and Chores and kids on board

We found a great way to help our kids understand how to be helpful, polite, kind and responsible. I mean we raise them to be like that but they're kids and really - all they want to do is play.

So we made up these sheets that are stuck up through the house - Expectations and Consequences. Now everything is spelled out in very straightforward terms and everyone knows where they stand. We had a family meeting and discussed the new system and the kids helped brainstorm the consequences. So far, we've had a great response - far less anger in our house and things are getting done with fewer problems. Only one consequence is applied to any infraction and we haven't really had to use many of them.

 - Be polite and have good manners
 - Be positive and kind towards other people
 - Remember important things without prompting
 - Help contribute to the family and household without complaining
 - Do your tasks regularly and without prompting or complaining

 - Cleaning Tasks
 - Cleaning Windows
 - Cleaning Skirting Boards
 - Cobweb removal
 - Mowing a section of lawn
 - Sweeping the outside verandah
 - Tidying a room or area that is messy
 - Clean toilet, including wiping walls
 - Clean bathroom vanity unit

 - Do-overs (with modelling from parent and then a sincere apology)
 - Pleasantly play game of other person’s choice for half an hour

 - Time in room or on back balcony to reflect
 - Write a ‘reflection sheet’ (why it happened, what went wrong, how I could have behaved differently, what I will do in future)

 - Treaty Tuesday
 - Toy, or collection of toys
 - Book/Books
 - Night-time reading from parent
 - Reading-in-bed time
 - Nintendo/iPod/Computer Game/Phone
 - Miss out on next treat (all children get treat except you)

For example, the Perfect Princess is 9 and she knows that if she stands right beside her 12 year old brother and sings loudly in his ear he will get annoyed (not being kind towards others). He used to yell at her (not polite) and then he’d get in trouble for being rude while she got away with it. Now, the Middle Guy knows that instead of being rude to her (which will earn him a tedious consequence) he is to come and tell a parent rather than addressing her. Which he recently did. Then the parent can appropriately dole out consequences. TMG gets tPP removed and has no consequences because he behaved politely and alerted a grown-up. TPP got to wash all the little window-panes in one of our internal doors and think about why she shouldn’t annoy tMG on purpose. No one got angry, no one yelled, no one sulked. It was amazing. Or, the Little Guy has this bad habit of running at me with his teeth clenched to flail at and violently land on my body when he's feeling particularly cross. So the other day I said oh no, now you have to have a consequence, it's not kind to run at people to try to hurt them - say goodbye to your costumes for a day tLG. When he responded that he didn't care, I upped the ante - two days then. He got the picture, he lost his costumes and he hasn't run at me and landed on me since. 

The other great thing I came upon was the How I Contribute to My Family chart. Each of our kids has one and they are aware they have to do jobs each day.  Ours includes: pack dishwasher, empty dishwasher, tidy toys away, help with washing, rubbish - in or out, clear table and set table. Having a list of expected jobs displayed for all to see and a dot to mark when you've done a job has somehow made jobs more palatable for the kids. In fact, now, as they sit down to dinner they're saying "Dibs on clearing" so they can be the one who gets that dot. It's bizarre but it works. (We laminated ours and use a whiteboard texta to colour the dots each week.)

We used that system successfully for a little over 6 months. Now our kids do their jobs automatically with NO fuss (can you even believe it). Apparently they just had to get into the habit. They're kinder (mostly) and we rarely need to give anyone a consequence. Astounding. Don't get me wrong, they're still bold, but we've sorted a lot of the job/politeness issues.