Friday, February 10, 2012

Accountable Kids

For Christmas, I bought the family a program called Accountable Kids. It is based on the principle of 'you reap what you sow.' It is a system that helps me as the parent clearly communicate what is expected of my children and that also has a built-in system of rewards and consequences depending on how well they obey.

I first stumbled across this program months ago online, and a few factors led me to purchase it and implement it on our home. By way of background, let me start by noting some problem areas that I had begun to notice in our home:

1. We had certain daily chores that we wanted our children to complete, but they hardly ever got done. I could have written them out, but only my oldest can read so I was really looking for a chore chart that included pictures.

2. Because of a lack of clear communication and consistent enforcement on our part, we were left frustrated because we didn't feel like the children were contributing to their ability. They were left frustrated because they heard much reminding (nagging) from mom and dad to get those chores completed.

3. We found that the TV was on more than we wanted. And the TV watching, though still limited, was happening whether or not their rooms were clean. I felt like I was regularly telling them 'no' in regards to the TV (if they would ask me) or turning it off to have them help around the house (if they just turned it on assuming it was okay to watch). In short, I was not in control of this aspect of parenting.

4. My boys were developing an attitude of entitlement rather than learning a positive work ethic.

So: how does Accountable Kids help in each of these aforementioned areas?

1. Each of their chores are on a separate tag with a coinciding picture. My oldest can read the words but my middle son looks at the picture and still knows what is expected of him.

2. Accountable Kids had a built-in reinforcement system. When and only when all of their morning chores are done in a timely manner, they earn a ticket. If they do not complete all of their chores, they do not earn a ticket for that morning. The same is true for afternoon chores and evening chores. The kids get really excited to earn their tickets because they can turn them in for privileges that they really enjoy. No more nagging-they know what is expected from them and they know when things need to get done. Additionally, if the child completes all the chores for a single day (i.e. earning all 3 tickets), he gets a star for the day! The star stickers are put on a card and count towards an extra-special date with Mom or Dad. Once they have 10 stickers, they get their date. So, in this way, the program provides immediate positive reinforcement (through tickets) and delayed positive reinforcement (10 days of a job well done). It gives them a goal to work towards and a celebration of achievement when it is reached.

3. The TV is only on when the kids spend a ticket to watch a program or play a video game. If it's on, it means they have asked me to watch it and that their chores are completed. It means I can be the one to tell them YES instead of no!! It means that I can be excited for them to enjoy the things they like doing instead of frustrating them!! They know not to even ask if there is no ticket that they have earned.

4. Instead of a sense of entitlement, my boys know that they must first do their work. They know that privileges are earned. They know that certain things are privileges instead of rights.

Like any other system that you may choose to implement, the changes that need to take place require time and patience before they are a routine. I will say that the built in rewards definitely helped my children with their excitement to participate with the Accountable Kids program. I would not say (as the video promo for the program claimed) that it takes "all the guesswork out of parenting" but nor was I expecting it to. At the end of the day, every parent needs much prayer for wisdom and much dependency on the Lord to undertake the responsibility of parenting. It is a serious yet joyful responsibility! Accountable Kids is a tool (not the only tool but the tool that we chose) that aids in the task of raising responsible kids. I give it a 4 out of 5 stars!

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