Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Chores and Rewards

When our son was about 4 years old, we started a "point system" for him.  Each day we told him how he could earn a point.  Whenever he said he wanted a certain toy, we would put it on his list.  Each point was worth $1.00.  Once he had earned enough points (we used poker chips in a bowl as a visual to make it "real") to pay for something on the list, he could buy it. 

I tried to focus on functional goals with him, not just chores.  Because my son is in the autistic spectrum, he had functional goals that other kids did without difficulty.  One goal for example was dressing himself.  It was a big deal and would often cause a meltdown because he had trouble orienting the clothes and figuring out how to get his shirt on when he couldn't see what was happening (because he was half inside the shirt!).  Other ways to earn a point would include cooking with mom, mopping the floor (he enjoyed the heavy work of pushing and pulling the wet mop), or even drawing a picture to mail to his cousins. 

I understand why many families choose not to use "payment" systems for chores or family responsibilities.  In our house, I feel this works well, however.  There are many things that are harder for our son than for other kids, and I believe incentives are appropriate.  Also, I want to teach him that working hard brings reward, although you have to wait for the reward.  I also want to teach him how to save for what he wants, rather than spending what he has on small things impulsively.  I also want to teach him about giving to others with the points he has earned.

Now that he is going on 7 years old, I'm thinking that something like the above picture might work better.  That way, he experiences choices, including what tasks to pick (although we would control what he could pick from) and how many chores to do to achieve a goal.  It also increases independence I think, and instead of relying on visual cues, he can begin to read the chores available. 

How do you teach your children responsibility, functional tasks, and reward/giving?