Make 2016 About the Why and Not What

What We Can Learn From a Kids Chore Chart

I’m sure you have heard of a chore chart before. You’ve seen the chart with some various chores listed, maybe with some checkboxes. The idea being that after completing the various tasks, it is checked and he or she is one step closer to the reward, usually some money.

I don’t find anything particularly wrong with it, in fact, it’s good to teach pursuit of a goal and hard work but something about it all seems to miss a huge point.

I could spend some time explaining why it may not be the best approach but I find quickly explaining it this way is much more effective. If someone were to ask my child why they clean their room and my child ultimately said, “for the money” I would be lying to you if my stomach didn’t turn a bit.

The Alternative

My family and I talk a lot about, “our heart”. For example, if someone takes something from someone else that’s not theirs or if someone lies about something we ask, “What does that say about your heart?” The reason is as parents we want our kids ask questions about themselves and ask why they are doing something and not just do them, “because we said so”. In fact, we try not to say, “because we said so” but give a bigger picture as to why we are asking them to do or not do something.

The Idea

What we are trying this year, instead of a chore chart, is a “heart chart” (it won’t actually be called that, I couldn’t handle that much cheese). You might find, “clean your room” or “take out the garbage” on the list but it will all be underneath bigger ideas like, “respect” and “helpfulness”. We want our kids to be prompted to do these things not because there is money at the end of the week, we want them to do it because the reward is in doing it and what comes out of it.

Now this is the most important part and where I think the real change takes place. We will be checking in with them and seeing how things are going daily, weekly, and instead of reminding them of the money they could earn we will ask them about their heart. We will take them out individually once a week/month for a “dinner date” or some ice cream and ask how they are doing growing up in some of these areas. We will talk about how cleaning your room and taking care of your things is respecting all that we have been given and also what Mom and Dad have worked hard to give them. We may explain that helping take the garbage is being helpful and part of being in a family is caring about our things together. We will, when they do something wrong, pray with them and ask God to, “help their heart” and not just get angry about how wrong it is and to, “be good”.

Please understand this is going to be very different for my 5-year old than my 2-year-old. Navigating how to apply this principle though will be the hard work we as parents will do but we will hopefully see the fruit later on.

The Why

The reason this part is the most important and not to be skipped is it the actual point and actually does the teaching. It puts into action helping train our children into some extremely important characteristics and practices that we hope stay with them all their lives. Some of these are:

  • Pursuit

We are teaching our kids that relationships and growth take pursuit and don’t happen by accident. Every time we sit down and take a moment to address these bigger ideas with them we are showing them that asking the hard questions is worth it.

  •  Accountability

We are all accountable to someone and while this may seem confining to some it is actually the path toward freedom. We are setting up a pattern in their life that they understand that having someone in their life who will hold them accountable is for their benefit and then they will know how to use it well for themselves and for others.

  •  Listening

I had a friend I worked with that was a professional counselor. He said one day that 90% of the people he sees would never have needed his professional help if they just had at one time a friend who was willing to listen. By taking time to address and then listen to what my kids have to say in response to these big ideas shows that listening is valuable and important. And that they are valuable and important.

  • Reward

If we can raise our kids to see money not as an end but a means then that is a big time win. Instead of our kids receiving a few dollars to save (which at times they will) they see Mom and Dad using their money to bless them by these special times, I hope they will see the true value of money; not something to save just to use on themselves but something to use to blessing others.

  •  Loving

Every time we take one of them out to eat and talk, or whatever it might be, we show love in action not just in word. Who doesn’t love taking their kids out to ice cream? What child won’t look back and remember the times when he or she went out monthly (or more) to do something special with Mom or Dad. And what child wouldn’t ultimately look back thankfully that he or she had these special moments when love was communicated to them by doing all the above? It may take a while for that to come around but ultimately it will and they and the people around them will be better for it.

That is what we hope to keep continuing to do. Oh, and just so you know, everything I just mentioned is everything you and I need to be reminded of too.


Greg Smith

Blogging about faith, life, church, and everything in between.

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