Ask my children to clean something and it’s necessary to anchor yourself to the nearest door frame, lest you be blown away by the gale of whining. But put a poster board chart up on the wall with the promise of stickers for tasks finished and they knock each other over to Swiffer the family room.
In fact, I’ve discovered that stickers make manipulating children so much easier. Put a Dora the Explorer sticker on a banana and suddenly it’s super delicious. “Quick eat the brown, mushy part before Swiper swipes it! Swiper no swiping!” Put Barney on the toilet brush and they’re singing about how they love everyone while they clean the crapper.
But it occurred to me the other day that while placing chores like, “Clean your room”, “Use your manners” on a sticker reward chart was all well and good. I was thinking too small. Surely, there are far better things we can train our children up to do? We need to take advantage of this Pavlovian sticker training and create The Subversive Chore Chart.
- Go out and buy yourself a big old sheet of poster board. Everything feels more official to a child if it’s on poster board. Remember when you used to get nervous because the teacher might write your name on the blackboard? Certain items possess magical qualities to children. Chalk, poster board, etc.
- Find some crayons or magic markers that haven’t dried out. Baring that, grab some eyeliner or lip pencil to write with.
- Make a big deal about drawing up the chart. Act as though you don’t want your children to see it. “Whatever you do DON’T come watch me make this chart!”
- Now get yourself some stickers. There are two ways you can go with your adhesives. The sparkly over the top character stickers that burn your eyes. Or, my personal favorite, odd scratch and sniffs. My kids are out of their minds with curiosity as to which smelly sticker I’ll put on their chart next. The scratch and sniff horse stickers perhaps? Because who can resist a horse’s ass that smells like cotton candy? Not my kids. Scratch Santa children. What does he smell like? Credit card debt and peppermint.
- Now have a glass of wine and really think about what you wish your children did or said during the course of the day. Not what you think they are supposed to do – what you wish they would do. Legally. Start filling in the blanks!
If I may suggest a few:
Ask mommy, “Have you lost weight?”
When daddy asks what you did today do not say “cartoons”.
Brag about mommy’s cooking while at Grandmas house.
Fetch cold beverages for grownups.
Talk about how flipp’n awesome your mother is while at play dates.