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Archive for December, 2012

How Young Is Too Young?

December 28th, 2012 - Category: Teaching Kids to Work

Parents establish cleanliness habits from a young age. We teach our kids to take a bath, wash their hair, brush their teeth, and how to take care of their toileting needs because we know that establishing these habits young will make them routine as they grow older. Chores, however, are not as cut-and-dry. At what age should they be required, and what is appropriate for younger kids?

Appropriate Toddler Chores

As the mother of three young ones, I started chores just shy of two-years-old. If they are old enough to recognize that they made a mess, they are old enough to clean it up. I started with simply picking up toys. Make up a song, set up a timer and make it a race, or get lots of buckets and let the kids organize the toys in unique ways. Consider organizing by color, shape, or size. Chores seem less like work when they are made into a game.

Preschooler Chores

By the time kids have the hang of cleaning up after themselves, I will start introducing them to other helpful activities including food prep, setting the table, sorting clothes, matching socks, yard work and even vacuuming. I’ve had one child that was a pleaser and she was ecstatic when I told her she was old enough to be entrusted with mixing the batter, putting napkins on the table, or helping mom push the vacuum. My middle child was not an anxious to help, but when he realized that tossing a salad is the mom-ordained “playing with your food” time, he got more into it. The biggest caution at this age is that some kids will want to do more than is age appropriate (like cutting, slicing, or handling delicate dishes), so emphasize that this is “help” time and be available while in the kitchen. Lots of potential dangers lurk there.

Young School Kids

By the time my kids were in Kindergarten they could fold towels, strip beds, and sort laundry. My oldest is now in third grade and she helps stir the pots at dinner, flip pancakes, sweep floors, plant the garden, wash cars, and clean sinks. My 1st grade son helps gather trash, unload the dishwasher, clean up the yard, and fold clothes. The older they get, the more they are capable of doing.

Staying Consistent

The hardest part for me is not in establishing the chores, it is in sticking with them. Let’s face it, sometimes it would be a lot easier to pick up the toys yourself rather than listening to the initial whining associated with asking kids to do it. Top that off with the guilt of having school-age kids do housework after they’ve been in school all day and then came home to homework, and it gets very difficult for me to enforce the chore habit. What I’ve learned the hard way, however, is that if I don’t stick with the chores, I have to start all over with breaking the whining. Just like with discipline, staying consistent with job requirements makes life easier for everyone. The truth is that responsibilities can allow kids to feel more grown-up and more of a productive member of the family. Combine that with point-earning potential, and chores are really a win-win for everyone. The keys are to start young, keep them growing, and keep them fun. Even as an adult, turning on my favorite music and dancing with the broom handle makes my job easier. Helps Kids Give and Be Grateful This Christmas

December 19th, 2012 - Category: Member Endorsements

I just wanted to say thank you so much for your website,!

No more trying to reinvent the wheel every couple of months as my kids get bored with sticker charts or ugly job wheels posted on the walls, etc.  And no more nagging and feeling frustrated as I try to teach them responsibility!

We have used online for over a year and we’re still going strong! I have 5 kids and it just plain and simple works and my kids and I love it! They really like going online in the mornings and checking off their completed jobs! And I love receiving a text when my child is done with all their jobs.  It gives me an opportunity to praise them and catch them being good rather than nagging them to get to work!

This year for Christmas, my kids have even spent their money buying Christmas presents for each other!  It is perfect because they can look at each others wish list online and surprise them with exactly what they want.  They are especially excited about giving their presents this year because they were the ones to actually earn the money for them.

I am anticipating them being more grateful this year too, since they know how much work it is to earn each item!

And as an added bonus, our house has been running more smoothly this holiday season since they are all looking for extra work to do! Thanks so much for coming up with this invaluable tool! We love!

Merry Christmas!

Melissa and Ritchie B. Family, California Works For Michele’s Family

December 12th, 2012 - Category: My Job Chart

Hi! Here’s our story of a recent experience with your website.

We have been using for probably over a year, and we like it.

In August, my 11 year old niece came to live with us. As far as we know, she was never expected to do chores before, aside from cleaning her own room when it was really awful. We were shocked when she immediately latched onto the system of   She is a high energy kid and was actually asking for more housework to do so that:

One, she would have something to do


Two, so that she could earn points. (or in other words, MONEY :)

It took time to teach her how to do chores.  Her favorite part was adding prizes as she thought of them.

Because of my niece’s upbringing, she was totally impulsive anytime we would walk into a store. I had to say, “No, we can’t buy that. It isn’t on my list…” dozens of times. When her job chart was set up, I could say, “We’ll put it on your prize list when we get home.” Many times, she didn’t even remember, but if she did, then we would add it. She eventually earned a used iPod Nano, a folding zebra chair, a pillow with an iPod speaker inside, and a set of BFF (Best Friends Forever)  necklaces for her and a friend. (Now I am not lavish with points — she really did that much work!)

Another benefit was that when she would say “Let’s all go to Dairy Queen! I want a Dairy Queen treat tonight! ” I could say “Do you want to spend 2000 of your points to buy a treat for everyone?” and that would be the end of that conversation!  And when she started asking if we could fly her back to her mom, it was easy to say, “Can you earn 40,000 points?  That would be close to half of a ticket. No? Hmmm.” (mean ol’ Aunt Michele)

With the system, she learned many lessons.  She learned delayed gratification by having to wait until she had enough points to buy a certain prize.  She also learned that she is an impulsive buyer, and that she doesn’t actually want most of what she asks for. She learned the value of a dollar, the price of objects, and how much work it takes to earn them. And she found joy in earning her prizes. Hopefully now she will take better care of what she has worked for.

Unfortunately she has gone back to live with her mom, but we trust that she won’t forget all that she has learned while living with us!

So, thanks for such a useful tool. helped us during a difficult time for our family!

Michele K


Leverage: Incentives and Consequences

December 4th, 2012 - Category: General Parenting

Believe it or not, even with all of your good intentions, your child’s chores won’t get done, unless you have a willing child.  Sometimes getting things done takes leverage.  If you can find what your child values, you can use it as an incentive or a consequence (also know as bribes or threats, but we won’t call them that today) to get the results you want.

Incentives:  Encourage your children to finish their chores by linking an incentive to it.  Linking the completion of chores to something real and desirable to your child is the key.  Where possible you should choose incentives that are appropriate to the chore.  It’s amazing what a child can do when they know what the prize is in the end.

Consequences:  Just like giving them an incentive to get the job done, you can also create a consequence for a job done poorly, not on time, or not done at all.  But be careful, if you state a consequence you have to follow through.  Sometimes it is best to have your child help you when coming up with consequences.  The beauty of having a predetermined consequence is that: 1. You don’t have to come up with something on the fly, and 2. There is less arguing.  When a consequence is warranted, the child knows what it will be, even before the offense happens.

Now to determine what your child will work for.  Here are some ideas of things you may be able to use as leverage for your child.

  • Things – You can give or take away things that they enjoy.  Some examples may be electronics, toys, clothing, or books.
  • Privileges – You can give or take away activities like dance class or karate lessons.  You can give or take away time.  Time with friends, time with a favorite family member, time on the computer or TV, or an adjusted bedtime.  Other privileges may include using the car or going out on Friday night, for older kids.  Or, for younger kids, maybe going to the park or their favorite dinner.
  • Food – Speaking of dinner.  We can use food as a leverage starting at a very early age.  Just this morning I told my 18 month old, “Eat your banana, and then you can go play outside.”   Food can be used as a motivator when you don’t get to eat dinner until your homework or your chores are done.
  • Money – Besides the obvious allowance, or getting paid for finished chores, find different ways to use money.  Have them pay you if you have to go into their room to find something they may have lost.  Moms x-ray vision can pay off!  Have them pay you for chores not done.  Or have them pay to get items out of “jail” that you have picked up.

Tailoring incentives and consequences around what is important to your child can take some time.  If you notify your child of an incentive or a consequence and nothing happens, you picked the wrong item to leverage with.  Keep trying until you find something that works.  And then let us here at know what works for you.  We are always anxious to hear what parenting strategies work in your home.