Sometimes, when we are trying to establish a new work habit, I have found it helpful to use some sort of reward system. However, I think it is very important that I don't reward the kids for doing a job, but instead I reward them for how well the job is done.
For example, I wouldn't give a reward to the children for cleaning the kitchen after a meal (but there are consequences for not working). However, I might give a reward for speaking kindly the entire time or for doing it in a certain number of minutes.
In my experience, reward systems tend to fizzle out in a couple of weeks, but that's okay because we're usually well on our way to establishing the habit by then.
Sometimes I'll put in a reward system for a habit that we've already established, but I would like to have it done more efficiently or in a more kindly manner. In that case, the speed or kindness during the work is the habit I'm trying to establish.
Some reward systems that have worked for us are:
-Point systems - When the kids earn a certain number of points they can purchase something from a chart (ie. 20 points = choosing a meal, 30 points = 30 minutes of play time with mom or dad, 40 points = 10 extra Wii minutes, 100 points = choosing a family outing, etc).
-Sticker charts - Some kids are motivated by stickers themselves, I usually have them fill in bubbles with stickers and when the bubbles are filled they get some sort of prize (a treat, play time, etc)
-Tickets - Buy a cheap roll of tickets from wal-mart and when the kids get a certain number of tickets, they can turn them in for a reward
-Bean jar (I got this from Rachel Demille in Leadership Education) Children get to put beans in a jar. When the jar gets filled up, we go on a family outing and do a family service projects. I like this because we work together towards a common goal and there's no competitiveness ("I have more stickers than you", etc)
(these aren't really rewards, but they help us accomplish our tasks)
Music - I do find if there is contention during work (or to prevent it), it helps to put on some soothing classical or church music (the Children's Songbook CDs are very effective) to help calm me down. It seems to have the same effect on the kids as well ;-)
Blog (or tell) about it - I'm finding that I feel kind of hypocritical when I'm telling people I'm doing something and then I slack off ;-)
Lists - Sometimes having a list can help kids stay on task. I read about a kitchen list from Angela's blog today. I put this one together for our meal time clean up this morning (when we're all done with #1, we all do #2, etc)
1) Clear table and counters
2) Clean table, chairs and counters
Pick up stuff from floor
It worked great
I've written about my latest favorite here.
It's fun to come up with little systems, but I have to remember not to get discouraged when they fizzle out - it's not a succesful reward system that I am trying to accomplish - it's the good habits that they help us start.
Any other ideas?
This post is part of my thoughts on how to teach the kids to work.