5 Things to Consider When Creating a Chart System for Kids

Children thrive on attention…. we all know the old adage, “negative attention is better than no attention at all.” Setting a Chore/Discipline chart is a great way to give your child the attention they crave, while creating clear expectations. To set a system may seem like a hassle to create, but it can be a time saver when the family gets the hang of it. Here are 5 tips to help you begin creating your system!

1. Know that there are a million good ways to create a system: Do not get caught up in creating a system that is perfect. Decide what skills your kids need to brush up on (ex. household chores, getting ready in the morning, getting ready for bed, personal hygiene, etc.) and focus your expectations on that. Make the system fluid so it can be adjusted easily at anytime.

2. To punish means to hurt and to discipline means to teach: The system you create is best received when the consequences match the broken rule, or lack of responsibility. For example, if a child is having a tough time being on time in the morning, then the child may not be responsible for a later bedtime, or if a child has not finished chores then extra outside time may not be possible.

3. Mom and Dad decide what chores will be included in the chart system, as well as what rewards or consequences will apply: Parents need to be seen as the head of the household when it comes to clear expectations, and this is achieved by parents being on the same page with what is included in the charting system. If parents are not living in the same home, it is recommended charting be followed in both homes if at all possible. This allows for clear expectations, which is comforting for children, as well as creating strength in your parenting. When the system has been completed have a family meeting to explain how the system works and expectations of the child/children.

Currency is what motivates people. When deciding on a reward for your system, use your child’s “currency” (ex. money, video games, computer time, staying up longer, time outside, cell phone, stickers, time with mom or dad, etc.) My advice is to use the least monetary reward possible while still motivating the child. When each chore is completed the child will earn points toward their reward. If a household rule is broken points can be taken as a consequence, and extra points can be earned for exceptional behavior, which is at the parent’s discretion. Rewards and points earned need to be suitable for the age.

4. Make your system visual: People learn in different ways, and one way to respond to different learning styles is making your system visual. This also provides accountability for the child when he/she documents on the chart when the chore is finished. There is a variety of ways to create your chart. Having kids involved in creating the chart is a way for the child to take ownership in the system. It is recommended for Mom and Dad to provide a template for kids to follow. Templates for charts can be found online, as well as interactive charting games. Put the chart somewhere so that all family members can refer to it.

5. Consistency: This is the number one rule for a successful charting system. People like to know what to expect, especially children. When we do not know what to expect our anxiety heightens, when anxiety heightens emotions heighten, and this is where behaviors can get us into trouble. Lack of consistency shows children that boundaries are not firm, and allows them to think that boundaries can be pushed.

Below I have listed sites that you may find helpful in creating a chore chart:

handipoints.com: In addition to powerful parenting tools for creating Chore, Behavior, and Study Charts, Handipoints features HandiLand, a safe virtual world where kids adopt their own cartoon cat. Great for kids from 5 to 13, Handipoints helps teach kids how to work and save for fun virtual rewards.

chorecharts.com: Developed to offer parents and kids cool, easy-to-download, thoughtfully designed chore charts. After looking around for chore charts, we came to conclude that the Web really didn’t have that much to offer.

chore-charts.net: This Fun & Effective Chore Chart Kit will help your Family Organize Household Chores. These Beautifully designed Chore Charts & Reusable Stickers are a must for Family Organization to help get the Chores done.

Megan Orr-Murphy, M.Ed, LPC

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