5.16.2013

Kids: Chores & Rewards

photo from itunes.apple.com

My boys are 7.5(Donx)  and almost 9, in July (Big Red).  Donx is extremely helpful and genuinely likes to clean and be assigned little chores around the house.  Because of this, I normally don't take issue when he asks for little things like playing games on his kindle, asking for Pokemon cards when at the store or even for a piece of candy or pack of gum.  However my Big Red nearly always gets jealous when I do buy Donx these things.  I've explained to Big Red, numerous times, that Donx willingly helps and when we ask him to do things he does so without complaining.  Big Red usually just growls and stomps away.

Big Red is a lazy one.  He doesn't like to help out around the house and will do so, usually with a lot of complaining, only if there is something he really wants us to buy him or to let him do something.  Big Red loves TV, loves video games and loves his Kindle Fire HD.  The thing is I don't willingly dish out the time to do these couch potato activities, I like to make the kids earn the time.  For Big Red this is a big, fat problem.  When he realized there was no bending the rules he started helping out a little but he only wanted "easy" chores.

This got me thinking.  I wanted to find an app that would be easy for the kids to understand and quick and easy to set up and maintain.  I read  many blogs and websites that had topics on "Apps every parents should have," "Apps for Kids Chores" and so on.  Ultimately I didn't see anything i really liked and just logged onto the Apple App Store and searched on the keyword "Chores."  


I came across the App iAllowance and it incorporated everything I was looking for.  I sprang for the full version ($4.99).  The interface is extremely simple for both my and the boys.  iAllowance allows me to add in all type of chores/jobs for the boys, the app allows me to enter the info once and copy it over to other listed children.  This is such a time saver and it doesn't stop me from entering items specific to each child either.  Besides just adding chores I am also able to add Rewards, or incentives if you will, to the boys profiles as well.  

iAllowance allows parents to either assigned a monetary value or a star value to these chores and rewards.  I use a star/point value with different chores holding various values.  I've given chores/habits that I struggle with with the boys a higher point value then those chores/habits that come a bit more naturally.  I should explain that I say "chores/habits" because I don't use iAllowance strictly for typical chores I also use it to help correct bad habits and create new habits in my boys life.  For example, they like to do a very quick, half assed job when brushing their teeth because they see it as a waste of their time; so I created "brushing your teeth very good, the first time" as a chore/habit and assigned it a 2 star value.  Now the boys take it seriously and actually have improved so much that maybe only once or twice a week do we need to send them back to re-brush their teeth.  To correct bad habits I've created a negative star value to habits that i've been unsuccessful correcting in the past.  For example, at meal time Big Red has a really bad habit of pulling his shirt over his knees at meal time.  Its frustrating to see him do it and even more frustrating to have to tell him to stop and then to have him mindlessly do it again a few minutes later.  Before implanting the negative star value I reviewed this with the boys and told them each individually what actions would result in losing a star, and for two weeks after I reminded them of these bad habits and told them that if we were counting these actions now they would lose a star.  This has worked positively as well.  These habits are not totally corrected but we are on the right path.  Both boys have been great at remembering what actions will result in a star and once they have been corrected I plan on eliminating the negative star habits completely.  

Some of the chores/habits I have created: 
*Load Dishwasher after dinner - 2 stars
*Read for 30-minutes - 2 stars
*Bring lunchbox & homework folder to kitchen after school - 1 star
*Being asked to do something more then once - minus 1 star
*Other - 1 star (I use the other for other things like sweeping the front walk way to vacuuming and I assign the star value as needed)
plus more

The reward system has been such a great incentive for the boys.  I have all types of items on there at all types of star values.  For example I have:
*30 min of kindle time/weekday - 3 stars (I made it low enough that this goal is attainable daily and they are only to cash in on this once per day only)
*60 min of kindle time/weekend - 6 stars (once per weekend day only)
*30 min of TV time - 3 stars
*$5.00 - 10 stars
*choosing family movie on Friday night - 2 stars
*Choosing an app up to $1.00 - 5 stars
*choosing an app from $1.00 - $4.00 - 10 stars
plus much more

Nothing is unattainable considering they can easily earn in excess of 8 stars per day and definitely the most popular is their kindle time.  

Im definitely impressed at how well my boys have responded to the app and how proactive they are about doing things on the list that will allow them to earn as many stars as possible.  I wish I implemented this app a year ago but there is absolutely nothing I can do about that now.  These days the day to day runs a lot smoother, there is a lot less nagging and complaining from all parties.  I am grateful that iAllowance is created and we are using it so seamlessly in our home!

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