Saturday, August 21, 2010

the general family store

My husband and I have spent the last few weekends on ladders painting the outside of our house.  Our kids have been so excited to paint until they learn that most of the work is really cleaning, repairing, and taping.  Their enthusiasm dwindles and they begin asking, "Why are we doing this, again".  It has been a good reminder of one of the most important principles that I have learned as a parent.   This being that : the feeling of joy for a job well done is learned response after lots of experience and not a natural reaction.  Kids can work and help, but they do not get the same sense of accomplishment we as adults do.  They may need a little extra incentive for a while until they grow and learn through expereience.  So basicly, until they learn that they feel better and can function better in a clean room, they don't care and may need some other reason for cleaning it.  (Some of us may take a little longer than others to reach this point and may need to use the reward system longer or maybe say, forever.)  As was mentioned in an earlier post, money may not be the best reward option, because getting paid to clean up after yourself is unrealistic.  Getting extra free time, fun activities, and other rewards may be a little closer to real life. 
This is where the family store comes in.

Here is how the basic idea works:
Kids complete a list of tasks
Kids receive some sort of token for that.
Kids get to barter with the tokens for what they want.

Here are the tips for implementing the idea:
  • Use humor, fun and creativity!!
  • Make sure the completion of tasks is well understood for both you and them.
  • Tokens can be anything you want:  marbles, the little tickets you buy in a roll, self created family dollars etc. (this may be a fun little family acitvity- create you own monetary system and design the currency)
  • Kids should be responsible for completing their own tasks, requesting the "family dollar" and then keeping those "dollars" in a safe place.  If needed the bank may decide to give away free savings envelopes to their customers.
  • Find an area of the house to set up the store.  We like to use a cupboard in a central area that we can close or that we can leave open to display all of the wonderful options available.  This can be a good opportunity to use, learn and teach marketing.
  • Fill the store with things that you kids think are fabulous.
Store products will be different for everyone but  may include:

certificates for: a day without chores, a trip to the movies, a personal night out with Mom and Dad, a fresh batch of homemade playdough, a trip to the zoo, a trip to the bookstore and free book, cookie making night, a date with grandma, a backyard party with friends, screen time, etc.
accesories for well loved toys -dolls, trains, action figures, bikes, vidoe games,etc.
sporting equipment
hair  and clothing accesories
seasonal items--sidewalk chalk, diving toys, cook back to school supplies, trick or treat flashlights, etc.
gift items for others
small items like playdough, bubbles, jacks, cars, etc.

We have loved this idea because:
Our kids are much more excited to complete chores if they are working towards something.
They have learned to be responible to not only earn "dollars" but to keep track of them.
They have learned that they may not be able to have eveything at once but to work for one thing at a time.
They have learned a little about marketing--seeing things make us want them more, exchange rate--when they want something at the store they are quoted the family dollar price, and convience store prices--candy can be expensive there.
And mostly because we have watched our kids who cleaned their room and loaded the dishwasher for a little reward, grow into teenagers who clean their room because it creates a better place to study and hang out with friends and who load the dishwasher simply because it needs to be done.

If you have any questions about the family store, leave us a comment, we would be happy to share anything we have learned.

1 comment:

  1. I love these ideas!!! I have a 9 yr old daughter, 5 yr old daughter, and a 17 month old daughter. These ideas will be great for them. The first one I am trying will be the morning to do list. Thats the hardest time of day. I also love the chore store.

    I also think I will be trying the family chores board.

    Love IT!!!!


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