The holidays are over, his birthday has passed, but “I want that!” is back. Without the promise of asking Santa or the grandparents, here’s an idea to teach your children financial responsibility, self-reliance and, most importantly, to equate effort with reward.


As adults, we often make helpful to-do lists to get organized and track our progress. Kids can achieve the same benefits and satisfaction!


Establish a goal.

The goal is up to the child and encourages them to make a choice about what is most important. You should encourage something they really want and won’t lose interest in. My son has been asking for a guitar for months, so we decided that he could earn it.


Create a chart.
It’s important to keep track of progress visually using a chart with stars, stickers or checkmarks. Establish clear expectations about the chart and what will happen each day to earn a mark. Explain which chores qualify and which do not. You should not incent for the chores that are regularly expected of them and you can decline a star for misbehavior. If they are young, it may be helpful to graphically represent which chores earn a mark with a picture of the chore, for example, a dog on a leash or a trash can.


Set a timeframe.
The size and length of the chart should be commensurate with the price of their special item or the age of your child. A $5 special item may only take 7 days to earn; whereas, a $50 item may take two months. That’s up to you.


For younger children, a long wait time can be discouraging. Promote persistence by adding ‘you earned it’ milestones along the way, for example, a donut after two weeks or a movie night after four weeks.


Some chore ideas:
Feed and provide water for pets
Empty small trashcans into big one
Clear all dishes from table
Water houseplants
Wash dishes
Load/Empty dishwasher
Trash to and from curb
Wash the car


As they work towards their goal, parents can add extra stars when they’ve gone above and beyond helping, sharing or trying. That way, they’ll know you’re always keeping an eye out.


Using these tactics, you’re on your way to teaching your child to set goals, track progress and be organized. Good luck!


by Barbara, Vice President, Human Resources