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Over the last few months, something has happened to my kids. I don’t know what caused it, or where I went soft, but all of a sudden they have been rude and argumentative. Chores that they have been doing consistently for months, or even years, are all of a sudden a fight to make happen. There was more yelling, more crying, and a lot more timeouts and groundings than I had ever given before.
Something had to change.
So a few weeks ago I came up with an idea, the obedience game.
The game goes like this. On my china cabinet in my dining room, I have two large jars. One filled with pennies, one filled with silver coins. You will get a penny every time you do something the first time I ask, without complaint, and remember to say yes ma’am. Silver coins come from extra jobs that you can do around the house.
These chores already have dollar amounts assigned to them that range anywhere from fifty cents to 3.00. The kids can find out what is available easily by looking at our chore cards that are hanging up in another area of the dining room. Each card lists a chore, with a picture of the chore for our non-readers, and the dollar amount the chore is worth. The kids can take down the card for the chore they want to do, and then bring it to me when the chore is done. After a quick inspection to make sure it was done thoroughly I will put the money in their jars right then and there. Instant gratification, sort of.
I say sort of because while the money is put in your jar right away, you have to wait until the jar is full to find out exactly how much you have and be able to spend your money. Once your jar is full you can count your coins and divide it into your spending, savings, and giving accounts in the Bank of Mom and Dad (that’s another story for another day).
Now you might be saying a penny isn’t a lot for doing a chore. And you’re right. But honestly, these were chores that my kids weren’t getting paid for in the past. These are chores they are supposed to do because they are a member of our family and it is part of their job to help it run smoothly. The pennies take a long time to add up, so they are more or less purely for motivational purposes, especially for Austen and Atlas, who are only three and four-years-old, respectively.
Our obedience game started officially right before vacation. That Saturday night I sat the kids down and explained the game to them. I showed the kids their jars, the extra chore cards, and I explained to them the chores they have that are apart of their daily routines. These they can find in their daily chore packs, which tells them what they should be doing each morning and evening step-by-step to help us get into a routine and make our days a little less hectic.
We’re currently on week three of The Obedience Game, so far the kids have money in there, so I’d say it’s working, at least for now.
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