I believe that my children are blessings and a gift from Allah (SWT); an opportunity for reward in this world and especially the next but also a source of pleasure and fun. As parents we spend a lot of time worrying, stressed out, feeling guilty and feeling as if we are getting it all wrong.
I realised that we can go down the route of getting angry, shouting, smacking, constantly finding fault and trying to correct what we see in our children or we could accept that we are not perfect and we have no right to expect them to be either. We can understand that they will have their faults and weaknesses and that is how Allah (SWT) made them. At the same time we can celebrate their strengths, be gentle in the way we guide them and recognise when the right way to discipline requires a loving approach that tries to identify why a child might be rebelling rather than punishment.
In the end whichever route we take, I have come to think it's a reflection on us more than on our children. I also love the acknowledging and appreciating when they are good.
My kids have been asking for a reward chart for the last few days. They know I call on them quite a bit to help me, especially since we have Darling who has just turned two and a newborn who is now two months and they liked the idea of getting something out of it for themselves.
I have used reward charts on and off over the last few years, mainly to get Gorgeous to brush his teeth. The ones I have bought from the shops haven't always catered to more than one child and often cover a defined daily routine (reward for brushing teeth, getting changed for bed, putting toys away etc.) which three of my children are too old for and Darling is too young for. Also there are clear things in my mind which I would like to see more of (Arabic practice -the boys) or less of (the sheer volume of mess Little Lady still manages to generate for me to clear up) that I could incorporate into my own chart.
The chart I came up with isn't too complicated, it had nine broad categories of activity that could generate a reward (or merit) and each child had a different coloured dot to identify who did something good. The bar across the top shows weeks from now to the end of the year.
The categories I chose above were:
- Tidying away all clothes (including uniforms and night clothes) - this one is mainly geared at Little Lady who manages to create piles of clothes on her bed and also the boys beds.
- Brush teeth twice daily (aimed at Gorgeous who tries all sorts to get out of this)
- Pray five daily salaat - Mash'Allah LL does so, but sometimes has to be reminded, we are now working on Little Man to get into the habit of ensuring he prays all of his prayers.
- Keeping your bedroom tidy - mostly LL and her clothes, books and stationary again, although it was her brothers that rushed to tidy up and then asked for a merit.
- Helping with housework - I do ask them a lot to help and try to give them daily chores to help with, but this way they do it happily instead of moaning that they do "everything around here" (Gorgeous again).
- School - good school reports or grades, good feedback from teachers or an exceptional piece of school work or homework. LL loved this one, she really does put a lot of effort and time into her studies mash'Allah and I try to acknowledge this, I think she would love it to be more tangible though.
- Helping care for the babies - mainly watching the baby when I have to leave the room so that Darling doesn't try to poke her in the eye, but also helping to distract Darling
- Excellent Quran recitation or Arabic lesson.
The kids favourite bit that really motivated them is the bit about rewards. I let them choose what they would like as reward and we will be adding on new things we think of.
Mash'Allah, they were so excited about the reward chart and the rewards they could earn. The boys have been trying to get merits for everything they do and I have tried to explain that they are not going to get a merit for every time they put something in the bin or pick a toy up but for exceptional good behaviour or actions.
I'd love feedback or suggestions from people who have used reward charts in the past. I might try and create a PDF version in A4 or A3 for readers to print off, what kind of things would you like to see in a reward chart?