My system isn't anything fancy and works on the simple premise that when the children do what is expected of them they get rewarded AND when they do more than what is expected they get extra rewards. The reward that I chose to dangle in front of them was screen time: TV screens, computer screens, video game screens, etc. Screen time costs me nothing, is easy to distribute and control and is a hot commodity in our household, if allowed my children would sit in front of the boob tube all day every day. As a responsible mother I won't allow this to happen unless they earn it.
Everyday the kids are expected to do a list of chores and self maintenance activities. Part of earning screen time is linked with completing these tasks. The list looks something like this:
In the morning
- Wake up and make your bed.
- Get dressed, tidy up your room and take your dirty clothes to the laundry.
- Retrieve any clean clothes from the laundry to put away and eat your breakfast.
- Complete your weekly chore (we have a rotating schedule).
- Complete two extra chores as assigned by mom.
In the evening
- Clean up your messes around the house.
- Tidy your bedroom.
- Shower, PJ's, brush teeth and tidy bathroom when you're done.
Each task is given a box on their chart and if completed by the designated time will earn them 5 points (1 point = 1 minute of screen time). If you're quick with math you have already figured out that by just doing their basic daily chores and self maintenance they have "earned" 45 minutes of screen time. Easy!! 45 minutes is enough time to watch one cartoon and play a couple rounds of online video games OR to beat a level or two of Super Smash Brothers Brawl OR to chat with friends on Facebook and research a new Bakugan--all things my kids like to do.
But wait! That's not all! If 45 minutes just isn't enough time--and let's face it does any kid ever think they can get enough screen time?--they can earn more points (remember 1 point = 1 minute of screen time) by exercising, reading and doing extra chores.
Thirty minutes of exercise earns 5 points. During that thirty minutes the child could jump on the trampoline, ride bikes, skateboard, rollerskate, hoola hoop, walk the dog (this also gets extra chore points!), play tag, do gymnastics, swing, climb trees, or any combination of the above. As long as they are active and their heart rate is up they can earn screen time. Twenty minutes of reading earns 5 points too. I personally prefer chapter books and non fiction but comics, comic books, magazines, and newspapers also count.
Video games that require exercise and reading on the computer or TV DO NOT earn extra points. Kirkham asked that question.
The kids can also earn extra points by doing extra chores, which includes service to grandparents and neighbors. They could scrub walls or pick weeds or organize a cupboard or wash the car or mow grandma's lawn and it will earn them some extra points. Point values for these extras are determined on a job by job basis. Last Saturday Heath earned a cool 15 points for helping dad wash the motorcycle, something he wanted to do anyways!
I have posted the charts, one for each kid, on my kitchen wall where they are easy to keep track of and hard to forget about. I put a couple Post it Notes on each chart every day with the kid's two extra assigned chores on it. When the kids earn points the points are marked in the appropriate box. When the kids use points, by watching TV, playing video games or using the computer, their points are crossed out.
The best part about the whole system is that the kids have been so busy earning points they haven't had much time to spare to use them let alone complain about being bored.
P.S. I have offered to accept trade-ins on unused points prior to vacation. If they choose they may trade in their points for vacation spending money. I will pay 5 cents per point.