This has been a big topic at our house lately. Carter is growing up and now expects more privileges around the house. He’s beginning to know the value of a dollar and what it can buy. He knows that time playing games online or watching television is a treat, not a right, in our house. So, we’ve begun to introduce responsibility and chores into his life.
At age 4, there is a lot that he can’t do. There are also a lot of things I’m daunted to let him do although he is capable. I know it’s often easier for me to complete tasks myself than to spend the time guiding and overseeing the management of his chores. I’m trying to do better with this. We’ve come up with a good system that works for us.
Carter is in charge of feeding the cat each morning and evening. He also is expected to keep his room, and common areas tidy of his belongings. He brings his dirty dishes to the sink, and he dusts a few areas of the house that are on his eye level. Each day we also spend time together doing worksheets on letters and numbers.
In exchange for doing these tasks, and doing them with a happy attitude and in a timely manner when he’s asked, he gets a variety of rewards. Often it’s time on the computer. He loves to play at Lego.com and a few other kid-friendly sites. Some days he gets a chance to play a video game on our Wii system. Time doing chores and behaving properly also buys him time for a movie, or a small toy from the toy store.
As he gets older, and more aware and responsible, we’ll begin to add in additional chores and tasks. Rewards will turn from special treats to money to be spent on certain items. We are already starting to teach the value of money and savings versus spending. In the interim, however, we’ve found this system works well for our family. It is my hope that I’m raising a responsible and polite young man who knows his way around. Being capable of keeping a happy home, saving money, and being a good person: It all starts at home.