UPDATED: Rules, Points System, and Chore Charts for Children

Last year, I posted “Rules, Points System, and Chore Charts for Children” to share with my readers how we maintain order around here. Our five kids now range in age from almost-4 to just-turned-12 and their chores have changed over the last year. We’ve evolved as a family and have modified a good bit of our personal system. I thought I’d start updating my site each year with the changes we implement as our children grow older to help you all out with ideas on how to organize and schedule your family’s day to day life. It certainly helps keep a level of sanity in a large family! {Click here to check out all my articles on routines!}

HOW IT WORKS

The overall points system for our chore and behavioral charts pretty much works the same as before, but with a few tweaks. I have a spreadsheet with functions assigned to various fields that helps calculate daily and weekly totals so that they are able to keep track of where they are at any given time. Each line item is assigned a “score” according to its importance or level of difficulty. Each day, I enter a 0, 1, or 2 in the appropriate field depending on whether they did not meet my expectations (0), did meet my expectations (1), or exceeded my expectations (2). That number is then multiplied by the number of points in the score field and is added to the daily/weekly totals. Normally, the only time they get double points (exceeding my expectations) is when they accomplish certain tasks without having to be reminded, corrected, or instructed at all – that rarely ever happens. ;)

The idea of “chores” hasn’t changed, but the chores they are expected to complete have increased in difficulty over the last year. The kids don’t JUST earn points for doing chores though. They get higher scores by doing various other things such as brushing their teeth twice per day, doing good deeds, finishing homework without procrastination, being prepared for the next school day, participating in our family Bible study, praying, and going to bed on time. The end goal in all of this is to raise them spiritually, responsibly, and help them develop into well rounded adults with healthy habits and respect for routines, deadlines, and personal accountability

Around here, though, you can lose points just as quickly as you earn them. The spreadsheet I created also contains a section which has functions that deduct points for unacceptable behavior. They can’t earn those points back. We have a whiteboard where we have a calendar, an at-a-glance copy of our house rules, and checklists for their chores. If you haven’t already gotten your children into the habit of doing chores, it might be a good idea to create a list of chores for them to accompany the points system chart so that they can keep up with what they need to do on their own. My kids have had the same chores for years, so those are understood without listing them, but I do have the checklists available so that they don’t forget any part of their designated responsibility for a particular day.

Click the image below to enlarge

If you want to give your child credit for each chore individually, you can modify your own chart to reflect each item… I don’t consider any of their chores done if all of them aren’t done. At the end of the week, they can “cash in” the points they’ve earned for various things – a few bucks for a particular purchase they want to make, a privilege, or their choice of activity for Family Night – or they can “save” them to cash in the following week if they are wanting something more than what they’ve earned. We use a three-level tier to allow them to obtain certain rewards, which I switch up each week. Sometimes they will have the option of going out to eat, getting cash allowance, or taking a trip to the park. Other times they will have options like getting to choose snacks for the week, getting treats after school, or having company.

MY CHILDREN & THEIR CHORES

Over the years, no matter what has changed there is always one thing that remains the same: everyone pulls their own weight. We firmly believe that failing to teach our kids how to be self-sufficient is a huge disservice to them so each of our children are responsible for specific things on a day to day basis. We alternate certain chores between the oldest four on a rotating basis; other things are assigned to one or two of the kids in particular. Last year when I posted the article, our niece Tiara was living with us; that is no longer the case so we’re back to the oldest three kids taking turns on kitchen duty. Last year, they also got a break on Wednesday as that was my night; that is also no longer the case. I straighten up in the kitchen during the day and I go behind them to make sure everything is completely clean, but ultimately they do the majority of cleaning. Why? Well, because they do the majority of messing up! lol

Whoever has kitchen duty or bathroom duty doesn’t have to do anything else that day except for the chores specifically assigned to them on a continual basis (such as their bedrooms). The rest of the kids are expected to take care of tidying up the rest of the house — sweeping, straightening up, putting things away, getting whatever paper or whatever they’ve left in the yard during playtime, etc. The one thing that has changed is laundry — I do the majority of washing, drying, folding, hanging, and putting it up but if I put clothes in their rooms they are expected to make sure that they get to their proper places. Every now and then I will tell Bri or Talia to start the washer or have Tre bring clothes upstairs that were in the dryer, but that isn’t specifically a part of any of their chores.

  1. Briyana (age 12) has the kitchen on Sundays and Wednesdays and the bathrooms on Tuesdays and Saturdays. She has third shift on the kitchen on Saturdays as well so that anything she doesn’t do is still her responsibility on Sunday morning. She is responsible for keeping her own room clean, bed made, etc. She is also still expected to set a good example for her younger siblings (which she doesn’t always do such a hot job of…)
  2. Tre (age 10.5) still has the same tasks of feeding the dog and taking out the trash from the kitchen and bathrooms. He is also expected to make sure the trash  bin gets out to the road on Wednesdays. He has the kitchen on Mondays and Thursdays and the bathrooms on Sundays and Wednesdays. Tre has second shift on the kitchen on Saturdays.
  3. Talia (age 9) has the kitchen on Tuesdays and Fridays and the bathrooms on Mondays and Thursdays. She is responsible for ensuring her and Avalyn’s room stays tidy – they have equal share in cleaning it and each are expected to make up their own beds. She has first shift on the kitchen on Saturdays so that anything she didn’t do on Friday night is still her responsibility.
  4. Avalyn (age 6.5) does not have kitchen duty, but she is expected to dump her own plate and put her dishes in the sink. Ava has the bathrooms on Wednesdays. Her responsibility basically entails helping her siblings when they have the general house as a chore – she walks around with a Walmart bag and picks up anything that needs to be thrown away, takes clothes to the laundry area, etc. She is learning how to sweep.
  5. Zoe (age 3.5) isn’t expected to do a whole lot, but she does have simple responsibilities to prepare her for chores in a couple of years. She picks up toys after herself and puts them away, folds any clothes that she takes out and has to put them back where she got them from, and has to get paper towels and wipe up things she spills. Her tasks pretty much only deal with cleaning up after herself. She isn’t all that great at it but she’s learning to be responsible for her own messes which is the most important thing at this point.

HOUSE RULES

  1. Use inside voices inside. <— Self explanatory. Don’t yell.
  2. Be respectful. <— This applies to adults as well as one another and other children. Give respect to get respect.
  3. Be helpful! <— I expect them to be helpful to me, their teachers, people in the neighborhood, and one another, especially with homework.
  4. Be appreciative – say THANK YOU. <— I want them to realize that they aren’t owed things so when someone does something for them, they should recognize it as a wonderful gesture and they should voice their appreciation by saying a simple thanks.
  5. Be kind – consider others’ circumstances. <— It’s important for children to know that sometimes people aren’t mean just because they feel like being mean. Sometimes they are angry because their life isn’t going well. Some people aren’t withdrawn because they don’t want friends. Sometimes they don’t want to get close to people because someone they’ve trusted has hurt them. Some people aren’t “weird” because something is wrong with them. Some people have real problems and those troubles make them act ways that we may not understand. We should always be willing to consider that there is more to a person than what we see and treat them kindly despite how they may treat us.
  6. Be a role model – set a GOOD example. <— I expect each of the kids to set a good example for their younger siblings.
  7. Look out for your family. <— There is nothing sadder than a family in which each member isn’t there for one another. I raise my kids to stand up for one another, be there for one another, and help each other make good decisions but also to support each other and be helpful if/when they make bad decisions.
  8. Make GOD proud. <— You’ll find out more about this in the next section when I explain our family’s code of conduct.
  9. Use your words – COMMUNICATE! <— Nothing annoys me more than having misunderstandings because a person assumes you know something they haven’t expressed to you. I remind my kids regularly to use their words. Don’t whine. Don’t pout. Don’t get mad or argue. Communicate. Say what’s on your mind respectfully and move forward.
  10. Do NOT ask adults, “Why?”! <— If there is one thing I cannot stand, it’s a child who questions an adult after they’ve gotten an answer they don’t like. I am constantly having to stress to my kids the fact that when I answer them, that is not an opportunity to negotiate. My decisions are final. Period. The end.

THE ROBERTSON FAMILY CODE OF CONDUCT

This is where we teach our kids about making God proud and designing their life and deciding their actions based on what He expects from them in addition to what we expect. Nothing has changed about our family’s “ethics system” since last year … it was taken from a Bible study we did on Galatians 5:16-26 and is based on concepts of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Our house rules are directly related to these concepts and as parents, Barry and I provide constant reminders not only to the kids but to ourselves and each other as well.

If you would like to develop a plan like this for your family, feel free to click one of the links below to download a copy of our system as a starting point. One thing we’ve learned over the years is that children thrive on discipline and self-discipline (which is very different from “punishment” so please don’t confuse the two), structure, stability, and consistency. Implementing our “system” wasn’t easy to begin with (click here to check out the article in which I listed schedules as one of my bottom three parental concerns two years ago) but it’s definitely made life easier over the last couple of years (click here to check out the article in which I talked about finally starting routines in our family) and I imagine it will make a world of difference in the future.

GENERIC CHORE CHART

FAMILY CODE OF CONDUCT

Comments

  1. Karin @ madebyk says

    Came across this while surfing on my phone. Will have to come back to it when I can read it on my laptop and digest it more. I do love the spreadsheet keeping track of points. (i love spreadsheets!) And this might be just what I need as my girls and I institute a point system this summer. Thanks for posting this!

  2. Kelly says

    Just found your website! Wow, all I have to say is you sound a lot like me! I have 3 step-kids who live with me full time. The third one just arrived 2 weeks ago, and I am trying to get him use to our rules and routines. I am a true believer in having the kids help take care of the chores. Like you said, they are the ones who make the majority of the mess!

    The thing is he’s 9 (plenty old enough to do the work) but the other 2, are 11 and 13 and have lkived me for over 4 years, so they have grown up with our system and other than points/percentge of allowances earned/lossed, they know what is expected of them. And most important, I know what they are capable of doing! Struggling with the new addition, but slowly we are getting it together.

    Anyways, love the way you think! Can’t wait to read more!

    • says

      New additions are ALWAYS tough. When my stepsons first started visiting us, they HATED when I made them help in cleaning up but I explained that they are part of the family and when you mess up, you help clean up. I would integrate them into the kids’ chores while they were with us and it was definitely somewhat of a battle, especially since I’m the “stepmom” but all in all it wasn’t too bad. Good luck striking some balance there — I’m sure the youngest one will fall into place soon enough. Thanks for visiting my site!

  3. says

    Just trying to nail down my kids’ chore situation and ran across your blog (via Pinterest). I love how organized you’ve got everything. BTW, I have a Tre and Zoe too!!

    • says

      No way (re: Tre & Zoe)?! That’s so cool :) Thanks for visiting and as for being organized, Lord knows I try. Even with everything spelled out to the “T” like it is, there are always inconsistencies because kids will be kids but we do our best! In a household this size, there HAS to be some sort of order to the chaos haha

  4. says

    This is WONDERFUL! Thank you for sharing. I think I may just have to make one for our household. :-) We have four kids 6 1/2 through 15 months. I shared this on my Facebook page and will be pinning it. :-) Have a great day!

    • says

      Sweeeet … thanks for visiting & sharing! I think your kids are at GREAT ages to get them started. Even the 15 month old, the earlier you get them in the habit of it being understood that you just pick up after yourself, the better. At 1 year old, you’d be amazed how quickly kids latch onto simple information like you consistently instructing to pick up a toy and place it somewhere — you do it over and over and the baby will begin to do it all alone! Good luck with your troop… I hope what you found here helps you to develop a system that fits your family and serves you all well!

  5. Stacey says

    Wow… I’m a working Mom of three (one of which has medical needs) and I desperately need some guidance on schedule. I feel like our home is so chaotic and it shouldn’t be… I’m looking forward to diving deeper into your schedules and trying to make them work for my family. House rules is a great place for us to start! :)
    Thank you for sharing your ideas!

    • says

      Kids generally do love structure even if initially they try to reject it. As much as they seem to not want to support the system that keeps the house running smoothly, they definitely seem to enjoy the organization! It’s much less stressful and much more peaceful when everything is being taken care of as it should be.

  6. Danita says

    I was on Pinterest and someone had pinned your chore chart. I clicked on it because I love love love all things about being organized. I’m nodding and agreeing while reading through the house rules and then started reading the kids names. I’m thinking “why do these names sound familiar”?? I totally did not know this was your blo! HA!!

    Great job!!! The kids have gotten so big (since the Yahoo Group days)!!!! Keep up the great work! You look amazing by the way!

  7. Winifred says

    I was bemoaning to my sister how I had created a monster by doing everything for my son because I would get annoyed that it wasn’t done…so, I would do it. But subsequently, it created a child who seemed to think I was his personal chef and maid, and oh…but no. I realize his behavior is directly related to *my* behavior, and my sister recommended the “points” system as a way of getting us both back on track. Yours is the best example I’ve found. Thanks for both your work on the system and for sharing. :)

  8. Deborah Uballe says

    I have 3 girla (17,12,9) and 2 boys (13,4)! I am hoping this will help me because they ignore me when I tell them to pick up things/or clean, until I start yelling or threatening. They fight with each other what seems to be all day and night! I am going to try to implement some or your ideas and see how they turn out. It is very important to me, I had to drop out of med school due to the trouble. I could not study at all, and I would like to return. Thank you for your time, Deborah

    • says

      Children tend to follow our lead, even when they don’t want to. When parents set a peaceful tone, control their emotions, act respectfully, and respond appropriately, over time it will catch on to the kids as well. I can’t say that I have mastered all of that — in a house with 5 kids, it sometimes get to be a bit much for me to handle calmly and peacefully but I’m working on it :) haha Good luck!!

  9. Tanya says

    So would you mind helping me to figure out a good fair way of this for my 5 kiddos? I have a daughter 10(11 in april) from previous, my husband n I have a son just turned 2 in June, a 3mo daughter(I know can’t do anything yet lol) then he has an 8 &7 yro daughters from previous. My daughter is here all the time except weds evenings, every other weekend n Sundays 11-6 on off weekends…his daughters are here during the school year every weds n every other weekend(same weekends my daughter is home), during the summer we have them every week Monday-Wednesday n every other weekend…with my daughter in traveling tourney softball, his play softball n volleyball, so as you can see its crazy but I’ve been trying to develop a chore/behavior/reward system but can’t figure out how to be fair enough to them all with this lol…help?

    • says

      Perhaps the best way to begin would be to have a family meeting when everyone is present and discuss with them what your plans are for managing the house when everything is so chaotic and time is not on your side ;) Let them know what you will be expecting each of them to do when they are there and use the points system to develop a pattern of rewards — I think in your case, having them work toward a nice family outing would be a great way to spend time together doing something fun while also giving them an incentive to do their chores. When it’s just your daughter and your son and baby home, I think having your daughter make sure that she’s cleaning up behind herself as she goes is sufficient and perhaps helping to keep the 2 year old on track (if she sees a mess that he’s made, ask her to prompt him to clean it up or even help him a bit). Don’t put too much “baby” stuff on her because she may resent being responsible for her little siblings, but working together as a family to teach your son to tidy up after himself is a great way to teach a bit of responsibility without overloading the oldest child with too many “helping” chores. When everyone is home, I recommend assigning each of them weekends to have specific zones of the house. For instance, they are all responsible for cleaning up their own space (their room or their part of the room if they share) and then they rotate weekends on other areas like the kitchen, floors, bathrooms, and other living areas. You know your house/family and your needs so structure it in a way that doesn’t give each of them a whole lot at a time, but that covers everything so that it all gets tended to. Hope that helps!

  10. Cynthia says

    This is great! I’m going to try to incorporate a few things for my family.

    I’m curious about the Galatians bible study you mentioned. Was this a prepared bible study that you used or just something you did on your own?

    Thank for sharing!

    • says

      This was something I did on my own. I was a Theology major for 3 years so most of our family studies, I prepare myself. :) I hope that the system benefits you — I will be updating mine in the next few weeks. It has been two years since I modified our family’s system and with the kids getting a bit older, it’s time! Thanks for visiting :)

  11. Allison says

    Great Info! So helpful.. but how do you suggest we handle the ‘dog duties’ for the dog EVERYONE wanted but no one wants to care for now. My kids are 18 months, 4, 8 and 12.

  12. Whitney says

    I absolutely love this whole idea! I will be using this in my home! Between me and my fiance we have 6 kids together and we have to get some kind of chore and rules going! Its very crazy around here without< this look like it will help! thx so much for the ideas!!

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