Every weekend morning, I find myself nagging at a few things to my kids. “Brush your teeth!“, “Have you made your bed?“, “Have you eaten breakfast?“, “Your PJs are still lying around on the sofa/bed/floor!” As I leave for work early in the morning on weekdays, I do not have the chance to monitor these daily morning routines and by the time I got back home in the evening, I saw PJs strewned around, messy beds, and learnt that the younger one did not brush his teeth in the morning.
Then come the daily squabbles and backtalk again from the kids. I find backtalking a periodic phase that happens from time to time. Not too sure why it happens, but I half-suspect it is attributed to my lack of quality time with them for those troubling periods.
Tired of my own nagging, I read back on my post on “How to Deal with Backtalk” which I put up a behaviour chart. It was a successful implementation back then when they were 6 and 4 years old. So, I decided to implement that again while behaviour charts still work on my 8 year old for now to address the morning routine and backtalk issues.
I came up quickly with a behaviour chart or you call it a reward chart here, with pictures and colours to make the chart interesting. (You can print out the chart at the end of the blogpost.)
It works this way:
1) if the kids have done the essential morning routine, they will get a small sticker for each day they fulfill the routine.
2) if the kids have helped out house chores more than 3 times in a week, at the end of each week, they shall get a special sticker. (3 times for now for a start, house chores include simple ones like sweeping/mopping floor, set up table, fold clothes, put clean clothes into wardrobe)
3) if the kids are respectful to parents and respectful to siblings everyday, at the end of each week, they shall get a double special sticker. (This is to nip the backtalk and squabbles problem.)
I try to make it as simple as possible for the rewards chart, and lesser rules. What I did not expect was the below:
On the first day of implementing this chart, YH called me at work.
(YH) Mummy, I brushed my teeth this morning.
(Mummy) Good boy, you don’t need to call me to tell me this.
(YH) But Mummy, I am worried that Jie Jie (sis) will tell you that I lied to you. I did brush!
(Mummy) Alright, whatever you say, I am going to believe you, don’t worry. I will trust you.
The next day, XX called me when she was back from school:
(XX) Mummy, YH did not hang up his PJs! He’s going to lie to you and say he did!
(Me) XX, you do not need to call me to tell me this. I will know it when I get home.
(XX) But Mummy, he’s going to lie and you will never know!
(Me) Alright, whatever I am going to ask him later, I will believe whatever he says, I trust him. Simlarly, I will trust whatever you say too.
When I got home, I knew YH had not hanged up his PJs. I saw his reward chart, he ticked all the morning routines. Then I turned to ask him:
(Me) YH, I am going to trust what I see on your reward chart. But since Jie Jie (sis) says you did not hang up your PJs, I am going to give you a chance to tell me if you have completed all the tasks in the morning routine.
He kept quiet. Then after some dawdling here and there, he still refused to answer me. So, I told him I trusted him and gave him a sticker. Pausing for a moment, he returned the sticker to me and said:
(YH) Mummy, sorry, I did not complete the morning routine, I will not do that again.
And he cried.
I was touched by his apologies and truthfulness.
I hugged him tight and said:
(Me) I am very happy that you tell me the truth. Just remember to complete the morning routine from tomorrow onwards. For your honesty, I am still going to give you a sticker.
He was still sobbing but eventually pasted the sticker happily on his chart.
His sister saw the entire episode, and did something that was to my surprise!
She took out a sticker that she got from the Giggles party and told me:
(XX) I am so touched by YH’s honesty. I have decided to give this sticker to him.
Oh boy! How touched I was by XX’s generosity and love for her brother!
While I did not expect the potential calls from them to disclaim themselves over each other’s morning routine, I was happy that an honesty lesson was taught here. I definitely wasn’t expecting XX to show such a kind gesture towards her brother too.
I am happy. Happy that I did the right thing on placing trust on my kids as a way to instill honesty values in them. I was also taking a gamble on their reactions. Things could have turned out the exact opposite if YH had continued his lies. However, I was prepared for that too.
It has been 2 weeks since we started the behaviour chart. They have been helping me to mop the floor, keep clean clothes, and tidy the house, all which are really a great help to me! In fact, they did a better job than me! Kids are very thorough when they do house chores. On some days, they did forget to do some of the morning routine tasks. However, since the lesson on honesty, they have been truthful in filling up their chart and no stickers for them on those days. Much to their protests and my natural instinct to be lenient in giving out the stickers, I still stick to the rules of the game. No morning routine done, no sticker for that day. It’s important to be consistent with your rules and abide by them. I am crossing my fingers how well this behaviour chart implementation will be. We’ll see!
Free Printable: Morning Routine Reward chart
How do you get your children to be consistent in their morning routine?