Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

4 Sivan 5766 - May 31, 2006 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly










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Home and Family

Your Medical Questions Answered!
by Dena Newman

As homemakers, we all find ourselves very busy with the varied demands of running a home. It seems that whether or not we are employed outside the home, housework truly expands to fit the time allotted to it, and there is always a never- ending list of things to do.

When we are blessed with children, the workload increases astronomically. As babies, they rob us of our sleep, and sometimes of our entire day! It seems as if nothing will ever be done again! We dream about them getting big enough to help out, but it doesn't always work out that way. It's funny to imagine this, but in the 'good old days,' a new baby meant two extra hands to help, after a few short years. Today it seems that with each additional child, we need more 'outside' help, or we just work more! We can't turn back the clock, but why not try to motivate the children to help out more?

A proven way to get kids to cooperate is a point chart. Studies have shown that children respond to completing charts and earning prizes. The problem is that we often get impatient, and busy, and just forget. If we realize how valuable a tool it can be, and focus on the results, we will be amazed. A chart can help garner cooperation, and at the same time, give you a very easy and effective way to show gratitude to your child for each little thing they have done.

Start out by creating a chart (sample shown below). Try and include your children in determining what gets on it. You may be surprised at their suggestions! Try to incorporate as many as you can; if they are really not important to you (lining up toy cars neatly, for example) you can give it a low point value. Be sure to praise them for thinking of things that make running the house more pleasant and efficient. Make sure to include whatever jobs you think they are possibly capable of.

It pays to think big; as any salesperson knows, you can only get a sale if you ask for it. Children as young as three or four really can straighten up a bathroom, unpack groceries, distribute laundry. Be ready to break the jobs into small parts; tailor them to the ages you are dealing with.

If your kids are old enough, let them write their names on the chart, or decorate it, as appropriate. Selecting where to hang it up can be another group activity. I find it handy to take the chart to their bedroom every night; if you like that idea, don't tape it up; use a magnet or hanger of some type instead. It may be a good idea to keep it out of their reach, that way they won't feel tempted to reward themselves, or tear it up in a fit of anger.

As with any project, there is an investment of time required. Points can be given throughout the day for some categories, so try to keep a marker nearby (perhaps attach it to the chart with a rubber band or string), so that you can do it right away, before you forget. Alternatively, have a cup or container for each child, and you can drop in some small item, such as a marble or bean, for each point. Then comes the component that is simultaneously hard and wonderful.

Yes, you must also take five to ten minutes every night, per child, to update the chart. But, hey! That is a great way to spend quality time with your child, review their day, and end on a positive note. You may want to do each child privately, to avoid jealousy, and tears over lost opportunities, which can happen if siblings listen in to each others 'ratings.' Also, one-on-one makes it a truly exclusive parent-child conference.

Now, what good are these points? First of all, I had children earning them for months before they started to ask what they could get with them. (I guess they trust me!) You can be very creative, and again include your kid's suggestions for what they might like. It doesn't have to become a big expense; it's all in the presentation!

Try having them redeem points for treats, toys, trips, arts and crafts projects . . . even games with Mommy and/or Tatty. They can earn making cookies, decorating them, making caramel popcorn . . . you might even convince them to earn making dinner (take a tip from Tom Sawyer!). Just remember that if you offer games or a time-oriented activity, make sure you include a limit. Otherwise, you may find yourself drowning in popcorn, or looking at a monopoly game for weeks!

You may even try to do an 'auction'. Children get a paper with their point total written down. You present items for auction, either by surprising them with each one individually or letting them view the selection and plan their bids. My children loved it and the points just flew! It's more exciting with a crowd; so consider having your auction with relatives, friends or neighbors, using the same type of program. Setting up, running an auction and then letting the kids enjoy their prizes can keep your crew busy an entire day, so you may want to save it for a vacation day, and that is the day's activity! You may even want to have a special supper (pizza, hot dogs, ice cream . . . ) as one of the prizes that they earn as a group.

Here is a sample chart that has worked for us; fine-tune it to suit your needs. Good luck & happy tabulating!

Cooperated during bedtime, previous night. . . . .10

Waited in bed quietly until fell asleep, previous night. . . . .8

Listened the first time. . . . .5

Negel vasser and dressed quickly. . . . .10

Made bed in morning. . . . .2

Left promptly for school. . . . .5

Said: Have a nice day. . . . .2

Made an effort to speak softly. . . . .5

Left bathroom clean after use. . . . .5

Remembered to turn lights off . . . . .2

Homework done (& put away). . . . .5

Shared . . . . .10

Gave in. . . . .10

Jobs, additional. . . . .*

Put wrappers and disposable items in trash. . . . .1

Outdoor trash. . . . .2

Remembered to say please. . . . .1

Remembered to say thank you. . . . .1

Drank a cup of water. . . . .1

Set the table. . . . .10

Ate with manners (fork, napkin, neatly, etc). . . . .5

Cleared the table. . . . .5

Washed dishes. . . . .10

Swept up. . . . .8

Prepared clothing, backpack, lunch for next day. . . . .10

Cooperated during bath time. . . . .8

Got into pajamas quickly. . . . .2

Put clothes into hamper. . . . .2

Left shoes in place, side by side. . . . .2

Brushed teeth, per minute. . . . .2

Said Shema. . . . .5

Said Hamapil. . . . .5 (or more . . . it's worth it!)


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