Recently it’s been harder and harder to get Jake to do the things we have to do everyday: brush your teeth, let’s get dressed, it’s time for a bath. “I don’t want to!” He’s 3. I get it. But still…someone give this kid a chill pill before I lose it.
We bribe Jake all the time. I’m not gonna deny it, and I won’t dance around the subject. We’ve done it ever since he started [not] eating regular food. He’s a terrible eater, to the point that I worry about his health and growth (we actually have an appointment with a specialist in a couple weeks), so yeah, if I have to bribe him with a cookie to take two bites of chicken, I’ll do it. It works well…until he decides he doesn’t want the cookie and my leverage disappears into thin air.
But I digress. One morning as I’m trying to figure out how to bribe him to brush his teeth so it doesn’t turn into a crying and screaming affair, I bribed him with some stickers I remembered I had in my craft desk. Here’s the funny thing about Jake: most of the time…if I don’t remind him about the prize he’s earned after his task, he forgets about the prize and just does whatever I ask him to do. But I feel shitty cheating him that way, so 99% of the time, if I remember, I give him the reward anyway.
So yeah, I offered him stickers and then forgot to give them to him, and the next day when I wanted to bribe him with stickers again to brush his teeth, I realized I had forgotten to give him his sticker yesterday, then I had to double down and offer him TWO stickers, one for yesterday, and for today.
But a lightbulb went off…what if I had stickers every day to bribe him with for all the things I want him to do? Like….A CHORE CHART! TA-DA! Totally unique, never been done before. So I started brainstorming and looking around online. I found a couple on Etsy that I liked, but weren’t EXACTLY what I wanted.
Here’s what I wanted:
- Something that showed the days of the week, with images so he can associate the day of the week with a routine that happens that day (like a trash truck on trash day)
- A way to track completed chores for the week, in a way that I can re-use the same chart every week (VELCRO!)
- “Markers” that would be attractive to Jake
I couldn’t quite find something on Etsy that met all my requirements, especially since I wanted the days of the week to be pretty customized anyway. So I decided to design one myself. For each day of the week I put a picture to associate with that day of the week: for Mondays, a picture of my mom since she watches the boys on Mondays, and a picture of my in-laws on Tuesday since that’s when they start watching them. Wednesday has a trash can because that’s the day we take out the trash. Thursday has a garbage truck because that’s trash day. Friday has a street sweeper and a picture of Sarah, who watches the boys on Fridays. And Saturday and Sunday has a picture of Jeff and I, since we’re home those days.
For the markers, I knew they would have to be construction trucks. It was almost by accident, but Jake helped me google images and picked out most of the markers himself, which is great because he’s that much more invested and excited about them. I will say, I printed a couple pages of black and white ones because I wasn’t sure I’d have enough to fill the chart if things went well, but had to just get rid of them because he refused to pick the black and white ones, ha!
I also did a google image searches for each of the chores so there would be a visual for each chore. At one point I googled “cereal clipart” and then I went to google “bath clipart” but instead I googled “cereal bath.” That’s a thing. Most of the images are NOT pretty.
Anyhow…I’m not gonna lie, printing, cutting, laminating, and cutting all those tiny markers was a lot a work. But we’re a few weeks in now and it’s been helping A LOT. Brushing his teeth has become much more bearable now that he knows he’ll get a sticker once he’s done, not to mention getting dressed. I also included all three meal times, which it just struck me that this is not a “chore” and not something most people would include on a chore chart, but for Jake, it IS a chore and although not 100% successful in these areas, I do think using the stickers as a reward has helped a little bit. It’s also helping us teach him the value of saving: he get’s a quarter a day if he gets enough stickers, and he knows that if he gets enough quarters, he can buy himself a toy. It’s hard for him to understand why he can’t have that toy NOW, but we’re getting there :)