Saturday, April 20, 2013

The Chore Board and Positive Reinforcement

My friend Arlie asked me to blog about our ticket system and chore board. So, here I am.

We've had some behavioral challenges around here, and your standard fare punishment is not enough for the little man of the house. Neither is the standard fare positive reinforcement system that I've always known.  We had a disorganized system of rewards and punishments, but it was, as noted, disorganized and chaotic, and thus, useless.

We've also had issues with chores. Wee Man wants to get paid for his chores, and I love paying him for chores. The problem is that the money just isn't always there for it. And it gets EXPENSIVE paying a kid every time he does a single chore. Also, who REALLY keeps rolls of change around?

We've had issues with screen time, which is related to behavior and to chores. He would grab my tablet, often without permission, and start playing Angry Birds before doing chores, and he would yell and scream and cry when he was told to turn it off. It was really ugly.

So we had to think of something else!

We went to my sister's house for my dad's birthday, and she had the lovely chart made for her kids. It gave them a limit of screen time, and they had options for earning more time on specific days (my nephew can earn extra screen time only on weekends, and never on school nights). I liked it. A lot.

Apparently we had both seen the next one on the internet.

A box.

A box that holds things that the children left lying around the house.  If it's still there after the child is told and reminded to put it away, it goes in the box, and they must do chores to earn it back.

So a system was born.

I got a bunch of tickets from my mom, who picked them up at School Box. I bought a magnetic dry erase board at the dollar store, and I re-purposed a magnetic coupon holder. I got some baskets and an empty opaque tote out of my storage room.

The white board gives him a limit on his screen time and is updated during the day as it is earned. Screen time is limited to one movie and half an hour of game time in a day. I have to count it in movies, because I do not have a subscription television service, Netflix, Hulu, or anything like that. Rather, we have a bunch of VHS tapes.

Below that is a behavior tracker. Smiley faces are for good behavior. Frownie faces are for bad behavior. At the end of the day, we do some subtraction.  Smiles minus frowns equal tickets.

Next is the chore chart. If he completes his daily chores (in orange) he earns one ticket. He can also do any of the "high value" chores, which are worth one ticket each.

Once he gets tickets, he can trade them in for special things. Three tickets equal one item from the "blue box." Five tickets can be cashed in for a slushie from Slushie Gary (like the ice cream truck, but better!) on Saturdays. One ticket can be traded for five minutes of tablet time.

Now, tablet and TV time can be taken away. If you're able to read the picture above, the game box says "Mon. 4/22."  He told a lie at his baseball game on Monday, and lost the tablet for a week.

Daily Chores:

  • Take out trash
  • Water for the dogs 
  • Feed the dogs (once. I feed them breakfast; he feeds them dinner)
  • Clean your room
  • Put away your things
  • Get the mail 
High Value Chores
  • Do the dishes
  • Clean the bathroom
  • Put away your laundry
  • Vacuum the floor
  • (not on the board: he can dust, clean the fronts of cabinets, sweep the porch or patio, etc.)

I do my blue box a little differently. I have baskets in the kitchen. These are called the "put away" baskets.  As I am cleaning up, if I come upon something that needs to be put away, it goes in the basket. Yes, one of them is mine and contains purses and shoes! These are separate from the "put your things away" chore, in that "put your things away" tends to mean "put away the stuff you got out" and these things, for whatever reason (perhaps that we both have ADD) aren't included in those items. Just go with it.  

Anything left in the basket for more than two days goes in the blue box to be earned back by exchanging tickets.

Anyway, that's the system. Tickets can be earned for exceptionally good behavior aside from the smiley face chart as well.

It's simplified things quite a lot, because it's just all there in one place, and it's consistent without having to try too hard. It just IS consistent. When he can see what time he's allowed to ask for screen time, it stops some of the arguments. Once school work and chores are done, the screen time chart is updated to show him how much time he is allowed.

And I am all about simplifying!