Well, after about a week and a half I have to say that I couldn’t be more pleased with the chart (and my son!).
We sat down together and chose his goals for the week. For the first week we didn’t fill them all because I didn’t want to make it too hard on him. I told him that at the end of the week he gets to cash in the awards he’s received for 10 cents a piece for allowance (this would mean if he got them all it would be $3.50, but that’s really tough).
He didn’t get that many happy faces the first week but I never made him feel bad for not completing an activity. I only used the chart in a positive way and when he completed a task I rewarded him with praise and we put up a happy face. I have always tried to capture good behavior, but I found the chart to be an extra reminder.
At the end of the week he got $1.00 and was very happy as he ran upstairs to put it in his piggy bank. We then set the goals for this week, keeping some and changing some. Today is only Tuesday and he’s already gotten six happy faces! I almost can’t keep up because he is modelling the behaviours and doing the chores so naturally. And it’s not like he does something and then says “put up a happy face”, he never asks! He just does it and moves along. For example, last week he had say please and thank you on the chart. He must have said please and thank you ten times yesterday (he used to say please, but thank you was much rarer).
Another bonus is that because my son is the oldest and the leader, the whole atmosphere has changed. He is modelling good behavior and the twins are falling in line. Yesterday’s dinner was the most calm, happy, enjoyable dinner we have had in a long time and I owe it all to the chart.
I never believed in “bribing” your kids, but I am so glad I came to realize that this isn’t what this is at all. My son is working hard to earn an allowance so that he can manage his money and buy what he wants instead of bugging me for new toys all the time. The value of money is setting rather quickly as well. I almost saw a light bulb go off over his head when he realized all the work he put in to earning a dollar. He was asking me about the prices of things and realizing how many dollars you need to buy something times how much work goes into making a dollar and it seemed he finally realized why mommy is always talking about not being wasteful.
Fingers crossed this continues to be a fruitful activity but so far I am very pleased.