Finally a responsibility chart that works!

Jar responsibility system
One of many chore systems

Chore charts can be a struggle to create and implement successfully. In our household, it is complicated by a parent with ADHD. Creating and sticking with systems is difficult. Many attempts have been made and failed for various reasons. In desperation to pull out all the stops to help Little Bit have the best chance of success for her trial weeks for gymnastics team, we tried once more. Finally a responsibility chart that works!

Why we needed it

Little Bit is an awesome little girl to hang out with. However, I had noticed a pattern. I work 12 hour graveyard shifts, often for a run of 4 days in a row. During my stretch of shifts, my husband mostly has responsibility for the girls. He has a tendency to get lost in his world of electronics. Little bit shares this tendency to hyper-focus on screen time. The easy thing to do was to set her up with shows or games for entertainment for hours at a time. However, in the following days, I found her irritable, and oppositional.

From articles related to screen time, plus some educated guesses, I determined she was essentially detoxing from screen time. My husband also made minimal demands of responsibility. When it came time for me to enforce school, or any scheduled activities, oppositional behavior ensued.

Little Bit needed consistent accountability in responsibilities, routine, and decreased screen time. But I had to set up something that was motivating and easy to implement. That was key to success.

The Responsibility Chart

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I saw this reminder chart posted in a ADHD support group for comical use with an ADHD partner. When I checked it out, I found their chart for kids. I love the velcro instead of magnets that are often used. The velcro stays in place better, and minimizes movement and lost parts. I purchased the extra pack with blank responsibilities to cater to our needs.

The best thing about this chart is that there is a place to include the goal and the reward. Most of the included responsibilities were stated in the affirmative rather than negative voice (Do vs. don’t). Having clear expectations for short term goals with visual reminders is key. Check out my post for gymnastics coaches here on short term goals.

Responsibility chart success

There are a few techniques we have used that have made the chart a huge success in the first weeks of use. First, we’ve started off small. We targeted responsibilities that were easily attainable. For us we started with eat your dinner, clean your mess, practice gymnastics, and read with someone. Gymnastics practice is generally part of our morning routine to move our bodies.

To obtain the first reward, we set a timeline of 4 days, leading up to her first trial gymnastics practice. Every star she earned we gave lots of praise. Read about the importance of positive parenting here. And to encourage the task at hand, we referenced the goal and reward.

Healthy Rewards

Using this chart can be a great opportunity to teach kids that healthy choices can be great rewards. I’ve had great success with using fun activities that the girls and I do together. It holds me accountable to make time to do the fun things with them. The fun activities have been things that are active, or develop new neural pathways trying something new. So far we’ve focused on outdoor winter activities like sledding and ice skating, since those are dependent on weather. We have plans for swimming, board games, hiking, etc. in the future. We may use things like craft time together, following a painting instructional, or making a new fun recipe.

The focus is on creating positive memories and connections, and programming the brain to respond to healthy choices as rewards. Sugary treats or screen time might be enticing, but can have negative consequences if not used very judiciously. I am passionate about teaching healthy rewards now to set the girls up for success as adults.

Next Steps

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The content in this post is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.  It is merely opinion based on personal research and experience.

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