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The age of the reward

by MJ (follow)
Toddlers (143)      How To (22)     
Legend says that when the moon is aligned in Sagittarius, on the third eclipse of the year when Mars has left its orbit to play follow the leader with Pluto that a child is capable of changing an empty toilet roll off its holder.

Well, that is what they say, but if youíre not inclined to follow the stars theory then why not try the old fashioned Reward Chart.

If you have spent countless hours asking, pleading and eventually yelling before running into the cupboard to hide and sob with your packet of Tim Tams you are not alone. Parents the world over have cursed and muttered under their breath as attempts at coaxing their little darlings into helping with the household chores have fallen on to deaf ears.

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Cue some fancy scissor work, a packet of stickers, a thick art liner and some not-so-shabby laminating and you may just have found the answer to your problem.

Begin by drawing a grid using the art liner on your paper with one small column where the childís name can be placed and one wider column directly beside it where the reward stickers can be stuck on. If you wanted to get really fancy looking you could break the wider column into seven smaller ones, one for each day of the week but I have always found that children respond better when they can see instant results so a daily chart can be more encouraging.

A little FYI here, if you are Microsoft Office savvy and donít go for the rustic home drawn look you can create a grid in seconds using Word.

If you are lucky enough to have a laminator at home sit your paper into the plastic sleeve and run it through the laminator. If you donít have one, a quick stop by your local Office Works and you can ask them to do it for you for a small fee.

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Using the scissors cut off any of the extra laminating sleeve that you donít want. Of course you donít have to and this step relies entirely on how pedantic you are over how the final product will look.

My favourite bit of this project is the cheaper your stickers the better they are. When hunting around the shops steer your little ones towards the cheapest ones you can find. The less likely they are to bond tightly to the laminate the easier it will be for you to clean them off at the end of every day.

Stuck on ideas for what jobs you assign them?

Depending on your childís age you can assign little things such as putting their shoes into the correct place or help carry the dirty clothes basket through to the laundry. While these ideas work well for very young children, it pays to keep in mind that older children are capable of more challenging tasks such as sweeping the floor, drying dishes and folding towels.

Now onto what every child is going to harass you about.

ďWhat do I get out of it?Ē

Every child has a bargaining price, even if you donít know what it is. Trial and error is the key here. Set a reasonable and achievable amount of stickers that need to be collected for the day.

Remember, every child is different. While Frankie next door may be able to reach 10 stickers in a day, take a close look at how and why. Your child may be better suited to attempting six stickers in a day.

Quality over quantity is what we are aiming for. It is better your child achieve six well done and well earned stickers than 10 that require an adult to follow behind and take a further half an hour to correct the tasks done.

Simple rewards such as extra dessert or an extra 15 minutes TV time are usually big hits with the little ones. There are no right or wrong answers to what reward you think is appropriate for your child. Negotiate with them and find a solution that works for everyone.

And should all else fail I hear that the next eclipse is only a few months away.

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