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Indiana, United States
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Wednesday, January 6, 2010

WFMW - Attention to detail in children, can it be done?

Since this edition of Works for Me Wednesday is a backwards edition, today I get to ask the question!

What is the key to inspiring the children to do a complete job in their chores?

Now I'm not asking for a perfect job. In fact I think my standards are pretty realistic with regards to their respective ages. This is what I'm talking about...

  • When taking out the trash, is it OK to leave the dirty tissues on the floor that were next to the trash can?
  • When cleaning one's bedroom, is that pile of ...(self-control moment here) stuff next to the bed supposed to be there or in the storage locations provided by a loving mother?
  • When caring for the animals, does giving them water imply clean water?
  • When cleaning the basement, is it OK to push everything off to the edges in a little toy/trash berm at the bottom of the walls?

We've lost our cool, taken away privileges, cleaned their rooms with trash bags, and tried not to let it bother us. We haven't been too successful at that last one. Is there a grand tip that I'm missing? Or do we go over that Bible Study on diligence one more time?!


  1. I don't do so well at this one, myself, but what my own mother did worked pretty well. (Now if I would just remember to actually apply it.)

    The first key is to make sure the child in question knows exactly what is expected of the job in question. Sometimes we just assume. A child may figure that if you said to "empty the trash can," you meant just that - to empty the trash can. It probably didn't occur to him you might want him to address any "loose" trash as well. But given that that's the case - that the child knows what is expected and is just being lazy...

    Mom used to just make us do the job again. And again. And again. However many times it took to get it "right." The saying was, "If you don't have time to do it right, you sure don't have time to do it over." lol One of us was immensely more stubborn, but most of us figured out pretty quickly that it was much more efficient and much less trouble to just do it thoroughly the first time!

  2. We did the trash bag thing, too -- didn't phase our kids.
    We've just embarked on Accountable Kids, where kids earn tickets for completing chores. These paper tickets can be turned in to gain privileges. It's positive reinforcement over negative punishment....and so far it's working! I hope it sticks. :)
    Might be worth looking into -- or a similar type of program.

  3. It might be time for Stumpf boot camp! Grrrr! Ok, that was my attempt to sound tough, but not sure it worked. Just so you know, you are not alone. Granted I only have two kids and I so know you know all I am going to type here but I figre I might as well say it again since some of it came from you when we have this happen. So, this is what we do when this phenomonom occurs:

    1.) Retrain the kids what is expected and give them the consequences for not doing it according to the training. :) (for me...if you can't clean your room to the expectations I have set, which are not perfection by all means, than we will not be driving you to dance)

    2.) I know you don't want to hear this, but we start the tickets. If they do what is asked, they get the alloted ticket amount. In order to have computer time, tv time, playtime, they have to have the tickets. The tickets are their money. We also allow them to "buy" rewards with extra tickets. (ie...walk with mom, library day, special day helping dad, sleep in, no jobs day (this one is expensive!), ice cream cone, read a story with mom alone, etc. CHEAP!)

    3.) If you can't be a good steward of things, you don't get the things. We do give them away or throw them away. I have a friend who would tell me that if they have so many things that they don't miss a couple items...they have too many things. Hmmmm....who could that be?! Hmmm....let me think, that was you! LOL!

    4.) Pray!!! There is a disconnect going on and truly God wants to honor your heart in this. You want a home that please Him in all areas and while He will not smite us for dirty dishes, He does expect us to be good stewards of our things. So pray for His guidance.

  4. I like the boot camp idea and think that maybe working it into a bible study is a great idea. Just really let them know how to it disappoints you and God when they arent listening to a leader (in your case the parent!)

    maybe when they do good at it go back to old school praise, you did great at that, I really really appreciate finishing your chores in such a good manner.

    other than that I have no idea, i have a two year old who, well does not do well with chores at all :)

  5. Ah, I'd like the answer to this problem as well! :) The only suggestion I have is to call them back to finish the job correctly and then add an additional chore for them to do since the original one wasn't done correctly.

    Sounds like you got some good answers from others!

  6. Read recently about a great system a Mum had put in place using cards for every chore in her home. On each she wrote out exactly what was required of the job in enough detail that there could be no mistaking, though this would only work for those who can read and could be quite time-consuming.

    Think the Bible study incorporation would be good though as it would reinforce the godly idelas of diligence and honouring Mum and Dad in all areas not just chores.

    In a very severe case of poor room maintenance you could try the real hardy boot camp option that you clear out their room, bed and all and they have to earn back the priveleges from a mattress up.


  7. We also do a ticket system to earn tv or computer time. They have play time after school and chores are done which they can choose how to use, but if they want to watch tv or use the computer then they must redeem tickets. Each chore gives them tickets. If a chore isn't completed thoroughly, I call them back to finish it and then reward them with the ticket to go in their envelope.

    It's a positive reinforcement that we greatly needed because I have spent entirely too much of the past 9 years yelling. Now the only (just about) yelling I do is trying to get everyone to cooperate to leave the house. Maybe they should get tickets for that too. We needed a total change from negative to positive and this is working! Praise God for that!

    It also helps them get in the habit of WANTING to help and do it well. Yes, they want the reward, but they also want the praise and kisses they get with the ticket. We'll transition away from it after the attitude has changed a bit, but for now it works.