I’m incredibly lucky that we married each other 13 years ago today. Not only does she have her Ph.D, and teach middle school-aged students English literature and grammar (which makes her brave, too), she’s also figured out a way to motivate our children to get through their very minimal chores each day during summer break.
Both Yakum and Ikinji love to read. As in, cannot (or will not) put down the book, magazine, pamphlet, or whatever else they picked up at the time that has printing on it unless and until you break through their concentration and pull them out of whatever it is they are reading at the time. And if you don’t pull them all the way out, they’ll fall back in. And they wonder why it can take hours for us to get ready to go anywhere.
In any case, rather than offering a monetary reward for getting through everything each day (and it isn’t all that much–if they would focus, and not dawdle, they could be through all of their chores in all of 45minutes, max), they are being encouraged by the opportunity to check out more books from the library. Each day, when I come home from work, they show me their list of chores, and, if they’ve done them all (as noted by my wife), I give them a checkmark. Each checkmark for the week translates into an extra fiction book they can check out during the weekly library trip. No checkmarks and they still get one fiction and one non-fiction book, but no more than that.
Yakum has really latched on to the system. Friday, she was almost upset that I didn’t actually get a chance to physically checkmark her list, even though we verbally confirmed she had earned it. Ikinji a little less so, but once he figures out that the chores go quickly and the extra books are worth it, he’ll be right up there, too. The sheer brilliance of the system is that if they get too sucked in to the extra books to do their chores, they get fewer books. It self-limits in a way, and directly links the reward to getting the problematic behavior under control.
See, I told you my wife is brilliant. Here’s to many, many more years together!