Working Girl

Eleanor’s getting a little lax up in this joint.  Time for some hard labor.

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We wanted to instill in Eleanor a taste of responsibility to help offset the “I wants” of the three-year-old set.  As with most projects I take on, I quickly perused the web (yeah, Pinterest) to see if my ideas were on the right track.

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As an educator, the first step I took whenever making a behavior chart/ job chart was to sit down with the child and discuss what important items they thought they could accomplish. The point is not only to give the child ownership for the checklist items, but also to get a sense of what the child thinks is important.  (What you think is feasible or important might not resonate with your child!)

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I approached Eleanor’s job chart the same way: I asked her what jobs she thought she could do every day.  Here’s what she suggested: making her bed, clearing her plate, and brushing her teeth.  I added washing her hands after going potty and eating her vegetables.  (No surprise, the two items I added were the hardest for her to earn a sticker for at first!)

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Graphically, I poked around online and ultimately went with my own limited computer design (microsoft word drawing and google images…).  Eleanor’s only 3.5 so  I didn’t want a long list of ‘jobs’ to keep track of (for either of us).  Our job chart will be daily; if she fills in a whole week, then she’ll earn a prize.  Depending upon your needs, it might be necessary to make a job chart more frequent: i.e. if you’re working on helping your child clean up, perhaps twice a day would make more sense to give them more opportunities to earn a sticker.  Discipline?  Maybe even more frequently.

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If your child is never earning stickers, then your job/ behavior chart isn’t right.  Your goal is to give as many stickers as possible!  If the items are too hard to accomplish, then your child will quickly lost motivation.  Here’s a look at Eleanor’s chart after the first week.  I forgot on Sunday… Lesson #1: my job is to remember the job chart!

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Other suggestions: some children will need to SEE what the prizes are… this can be a motivating factor.  For other children, the positive reinforcement, stickers and self-satisfaction will be enough.  Eleanor doesn’t seem all that fussed by her job chart and I’m still driving the boat.  Lesson #2: I may need to be the cheerleader at first to get her more on board.

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Finally, Lesson #3: never forget what your goal for the chart is.  Is it to teach your child to be accountable?  Is it to change behavior? Is to add some consistency to your day?  Is it to build confidence by giving positive feedback?  Depending on your answer, your chart might look different or need tweeks accordingly.

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And of course, all children walk to the beat of their own colorful drum: what works for Eleanor may not work for you.  And it takes time to instill a routine; if nothing’s changed after a week, don’t lose heart… if you’re confident the “to do” items are reasonable and something your child CAN achieve, then keep it up.  They’ll get the hang of it!

xo

Charlotte

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