Here is a quick list of what we love about the program. A detailed review is below.
1. Kids become more self disciplined
2. They take pride in their work and
3. Learn to save for items
4. It Bonds us as a family (special date card and family forum)
5. I nag and remind the kids less about chores
6. Cuts down on time kids spend on activities like TV, computer, iPad, etc
To begin the book that came with the Accountable Kids kit is very well written and well though out. I do not usually have time to read, but I breezed through this book because it was so easy to read and had such valuable information. The book doesn't just lay out the Accountable Kids program for you, it actually give psychological backing for why a system like this can be so valuable. Then in the back there are example chores based on the child's age so that it is easier to know what is age appropriate.
The four parts of the program are:
1. The core chores, reminder cards, tickets, best behavior cards, and discipline
2. The privilege pass and the special date card
3. Extra chores, bonus bucks, savings, and helping hands
4. The family forum and quite time
I will go over in brief what these parts are and how helpful they have been in our family.
Step 1 - We picked the chores that we wanted the kids to do every day from the included reminder cards. The cards show a picture of the activity and there are 50 activities included. There is no payment for these chores but the children earn tickets for doing them which are redeemable for things like ipad time, watching a dvd, or computer time. The magic of this step is that these are things my children were already doing for the most part but maybe not as consistently as we would like. So for example my 7 year old has to make her bed, get dressed, brush her hair, and brush her teeth before school. After school she has to put away her personal items (wash out her lunch box, put her shoes and socks away, etc), do her homework, and clean her room. And in the evening she needs to clear her plate from the table, do some reading and scriptures, pick up toys, put her dirty laundry in the hamper, put on her PJs, and brush her teeth. So out of that whole list the only things that were really extra to what she did automatically every day are cleaning her room, making her bed, and picking up her toys.
This made it less of a shock to her and she was more willing to go along with it because we didn't add too much to her all at once. She now got to earn something for doing those things (tickets) that she could redeem for preferred activities and things actually got done without me nagging.
After the first week the kids learn to do these chores automatically. There are very few verbal reminders from me. If they disobey or act up they lose a ticket. They HATE losing tickets so this has been working very well.
The best behavior card is used to "catch" your child doing something good. I've decided to have a prize box that the kids can pick a piece of candy from or a small toy (I get toys at party city). This is an intermittent motivator for good behavior. I have given one out for immediate obedience (coming right when called) or for helping each other. Really you can use this for what every behaviors you like that you want to encourage. My girls love these. The rule is you don't get one if you ask for it which my girls have a little bit of a hard time with especially Abigail. If she gets one for not interrupting me while I'm on the phone then she wants one every time she does that. We are still working that out with her to figure out the best way to utilize it.
Step 2 - We were having trouble with my 7 year old and 5 year old staying in their beds at night. My 7 year old was having nightmares and crawling on the floor of our bedroom or the hallway. When my 5 year old would stir she would see her sister down there and join her. Because it was nightmares that were waking my daughter I didn't think the privilege pass would work. After doing the program for a few weeks my 7 year old seemed more confident. We weren't having as many issue with her being disrespectful. I introduced the privilege pass that could be exchanged for time playing the Nintendo DS (I never let them play it otherwise). Over the course of a week or two both girls were back in their beds. Really no more night waking save for a few incidences here and there.
The special date card is filled up with stickers for every 10 days that they do all their core chores. They can pick an activity like getting ice cream with a parent or going to the book store for a new book. We will allow any activity within reason and budget. This is a fabulous time for us to bond as a family and give the kids one on one attention.
Step 3 - The extra chores are additional to the core chores. Things like dusting, putting out the trash or recycling, emptying the dishwasher, checking the mail. These are redeemable for bonus bucks. We make each bonus buck worth a quarter. Some chores are worth more than one bonus buck (like cleaning the bathroom or mowing the lawn would be worth more). This is great because my kids can save money to spend on our special date. AnnaSophia (my 7 year old) is saving to buy the new tinkerbell movie at the end of the month. And my 5 year old loves earning these extra bucks to trade in for quarters on Saturday. She has saved and used some of her money to buy a book on her special date. We have not yet integrated the helping hands. I plan to start this with AnnaSophia first because I think she will understand it best. The concept is that the kids so something selfless and helpful for someone else each day (I love this but if I am going to add it to their core chores I have to make sure we will follow through on it every day).
Step 4 - The family forum is to be a time each week when the family comes together and can talk about schedules, trade in bonus bucks, and really come together as a family. I haven't tried to implement this part of the program yet. I think my 7 year old could easily do this but my 5 year old and 2.5 year old may not understand the point of the meeting. It is my goal to coordinate these meeting times soon though because as the kids get older I like the idea of making time for each other each week. I feel like it builds in some quality time which I think is so important. I have not established quiet time yet either. This is a time for everyone to find quiet ways to relax and recharge. I also think this is so valuable as so many times I hear my 7 year old say she is "bored". I want her to have the skills to do quiet activities and to enjoy that. Currently our family schedule makes it difficult to have time for this each day. We are usually going from the early part of the day till bedtime during the school year. Again though it is my goal to integrate this last step of the program as soon as I can.
In the above picture you can see the core chores at far left, completed chores, bonus bucks and ticket peg, date card, and extra chores.
The only negatives at all so far are that my 5 year old has bent a few of the cards even though they are very sturdy. She has a hard time getting them off and on the pegs at times. I also don't know exactly how to use the extra chore reminder cards. Right now I show them the pictures a couple times a week to remind them what they can earn bonus bucks for. But when they complete a task I immediately give them a bonus buck rather than wait until the end of the night. My kids love getting their bucks and want to get it right away. I also wish the cards could be laminated because I foresee us having to replace some of the reminder cards as well as the special date cards soon.
Special Note: As noted in previous blogs, my 5 year old is autistic. She is high functioning and her behavioral therapist didn't think she would be able to do the program because of her autism. She has amazed us all with how well she has done on the program. She requires a bit more reminding (i.e. she won't do chores past the morning ones if I don't reminder her to look at her chores) but overall she understands it really well.
I love how this program instills discipline, positive behaviors, accountability, motivation, and more in my kids! This has been a huge blessing to our family. I look forward to using it for the years to come. Overall I rate this program a 4.75/5!
Please find more information at Accountable Kids