The Deck of Doom ~ getting kids to do their chores

Falling in Love with your Family by Alison

In a Nutshell: Here’s one idea for getting kids to do their chores…the Deck of Doom.

I’ve been going crazy after dinner!  My kids each have small after-dinner jobs to complete, but they have been finishing them about as quickly as a tortoise with a bad leg…if they finish them at all.  And they’re not the only ones misbehaving.  I’m afraid my voice tone during this time is starting to register on the whiny-mommy Richter scale.  So, my hubby and I tried a new system the last few weeks for our older kids, and it seems to be working marvelously.  I thought I’d share in case anyone else has chore-phobic kids.

Introducing…the Deck of Doom.  I probably could’ve come up with some nicer name, like “The Second Chance Cards” or “The Happy Helper Stack,” but such was the mood I was in during creation.  We set a timer during chore time with a generous amount of time for the job.  If they finish on time, they are off to play, but if they don’t complete their job before the time is up, they “get” to choose a Deck of Doom card.  The cards contain random jobs that aren’t assigned to anyone (okay…they are my jobs that I don’t want to do!).  The jobs include clean off the mixer, clean the inside of the microwave, take out an trash not in your job, clean the lid of the kitchen garbage can, and stuff like that.  They need to complete the card before any fun.  Kids can also get sentenced to a Deck of Doom if they throw stinky socks on my couch, leave their jacket on the kitchen floor, and other all-too-common messiness around the house.  I made the card on my Publisher program using a business card template.  You could also just cut up scrap paper and write chores on them.  Don’t obsess about making them perfect.

I’ve loved the results.  It is so much more relaxing to know that consequences can “yell” for me and I can save my breath.  I do have to bite my tongue not to say, “You’d better get working right now!  The timer is about to go off!” It is hard to just let the consequences play out.  But our after-dinner time has been so much more peaceful.  So far, I’ve had pretty good compliance when kids earn their consequence.  There have been grumblings, but no major fits.  If your kids have a hard time adjusting to a system like this, don’t worry.  It often takes time.  Just let them know you mean it by saying something like, “I’m sorry you didn’t complete your job on time.  That kinda stinks to have more work to do.  You’ll be able to _______ (play, watch TV, ride bikes, etc.) when you have finished your regular job and the extra job.”  And don’t let any fun happen until the job is done.  They’ll catch on pretty quick.

The Deck of Doom hopefully won’t last longer than a few weeks as the kids relearn good habits, but it is a good motivator for now.  At the same time the Deck of Doom is going, we also are working on filling up a bean jar when the kids are being responsible to earn a trip to the lake.  It is a nice positive reinforcement accompaniment to the consequences of the Deck of Doom.  For more about positive reinforcement methods, read this post called Gold Stars and Bean Jars.

I set the timer the other day for something in the oven.  When it went off, my three-year-old yelled out, “You get a Deck of Doom!”  I think it is working.  He settled for cookies instead.


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