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4 Years Old: New Responsibility, New Privlege

January 17, 2011

Each year, on their birthday, we give the boys a new responsibility and privilege. When Monkey turned three, I made a calendar and special chore cards for him. He gets a new chore card every day and the privilege that goes with the completion of each card is a quarter. He has learned much about money last year from earning his own. He gives offering to the Lord, saves some in his piggy bank and puts some in his wallet to spend. It was the right time to introduce chores & money to him. This year I wanted to come up with something that he really wanted as a privilege and use it to go along with something he’s been struggling with a lot lately…whining about getting dressed in the morning.

Perhaps one of his greatest character flaws is Monkey’s whining. It is at its worst when he is forced to do something he doesn’t want to do or doesn’t think he can do. That is the case with getting dressed. He says it’s hard although he can do it just fine when properly motivated.

On his fourth birthday we sat in his bed and had a talk about his new 4-year old responsibility. To get dressed and make his bed every morning without complaining about it. I told him he was free to come to me and ask sweetly for help with buttons or tricky parts after he tried them on his own first.

What did I choose as a privilege to go along with this new responsibility? The thing he had been asking for the most. To stay up later. Every time he gets dressed and makes his bed without complaining I give him a sticker to put on his calendar. That sticker means that he can turn on his bed light for 10 more minutes and read after we tuck him in. He was very excited about it and earned his first sticker the next day!

Since that first sticker, Monkey  has only earned 3 more. =( It’s going to take a while to break this whining habit!

Today, however, was a very good morning! Monkey came into my room and told me he was going to do it without whining. He went into his room, picked out his own clothes, made his bed, and came back to me five minutes later all dressed! He let me know that he picked out “easy pants” and a short sleeve shirt. His matching skills consist of finding two of the same color, so he was dressed head to toe in chocolate brown. When he told me two minutes later that he was cold, I recommended putting on a sweatshirt. He came out with this grey church sweater.

I told him how proud of him I was that he got dressed without complaining.

I could tell he was proud too.

I didn’t even mention the not-matching thing.

One battle at a time.

I can save that for when he’s 5 or 6 … or married. And then his wife can just dress him…

4 Comments leave one →
  1. Debra permalink
    January 17, 2011 3:40 pm

    You continually inspire me. This is something (responsibility/privilege) we’ve been trying to teach, but you’ve broken it down & made it mean something to your kiddo in his own language. I will be stealing this idea…downright perfect. Thank you ;o)

    • January 17, 2011 8:12 pm

      My pleasure! There was quite a gap in Monkey from 3 to 4 years. I wasn’t sure he was ever going to get the concept of being rewarded for doing his chore cards, but around 3.5 he began to get it. Money began to have more meaning for him when I let him bring his wallet to the dollar store to see what it could actually do for him. Now that he’s 4 and maturing at a quicker rate mentally and emotionally, I think I’ll be able to add in a new responsibility/privilege half-way through the year or so instead of waiting until he is 5….and now that I write that, I’m thinking that’ll be right about the time the new baby is born. The perfect time for a new “big brother” job. =) Keep an eye out for something she really wants or keeps mentioning. Learning a new responsibility works the best when the privilege is something she is really motivated by.

  2. Kim permalink
    January 17, 2011 10:27 pm

    Wow Karen… I too love your idea!! It is a huge “chore” and a real pain to get, Julia, to do simple things to help out at home.

    • January 18, 2011 8:42 am

      It works well if the rules are all laid out ahead of time and expectations are clear. There is a fine line between having a privilege for responsibilities around the house and bribing. Beware if you hear yourself starting to say “if you do _________, then you get to ____________.” It’s a real fine line that I find myself stepping on frequently!

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