There are parents out there who are parenting with a structured, proven approach – but I’m not one of them.
Those parents, they have reward charts, with stickers and pocket money and privileges which their kids diligently work towards, putting in effort with their homework, brushing their teeth, staying in their own beds, or doing their piano practice.
That is excellent. Kids obviously respond really well to incentive because why else is there a reward chart in most Aussie homes?
But I’ve never been one of those parents, even when my now 11-year-old was younger. I’ve never incentivised him to do routine things, for one simple reason: I don’t believe he should be rewarded for the basic actions it takes for him to look after himself.
The achievement of him doing those things is his god damn reward.
This isn’t just a cost-saving exercise (although, admittedly, that’s a handy benefit). My son is materially very lucky, because I choose to do that – not because he’s ‘earned’ it from me. I realise this may not be a popular opinion – and let me make it clear – I’m not saying there is anything wrong with the structured, reward process – it’s just not how we roll in our house.
This is especially when it comes to domestic ‘chores’.
I, quite simply, expect him to contribute to the home he lives in. And then, a clean, tidy, and well-organised home is his reward.
Knowing how to polish his own shoes, pack the dishwasher, vacuum, fold and put away laundry, take the rubbish out, put the groceries away, even sort whites from darks – those are skills this kid will need in life to be a functioning adult.
That’s why we haven’t ever referred to these activities as ‘chores’ that earn anything special – they’re sh*t you need to do to live (or, you know, life skills).