Kitchen: Job Board
How to Use a Job Board in the Kitchen
The first step in helping children be successful is for adults to focus on the behaviors we want to see, and then convey that information to children clearly (with visual aids whenever possible). The Ways To Be Helpful and Job Board are among the many structures Conscious Discipline suggests to accomplish this feat.
The Ways to be Helpful assertively communicates our expectations and provides an opportunity for children to contribute to the family’s wellbeing. Ways to Be Helpful includes both behaviors (like social skills) and actions (like chores).
The Ways To Be Helpful may be supplemented by a Job Board like the one on the Bug Family’s refrigerator as children mature. The purpose and the intent remain the same, but each family member is responsible for different age-appropriate tasks on a Job Board (whereas a Ways To Be Helpful shows general actions all family members may do to be helpful).
Ways To Be Helpful (Younger)
A Family Meeting is a great place to get started with your Ways to be Helpful or Job Board. Ask family members to think about how they want the home to run. Write out a list of the behaviors necessary to fulfill this mental image. Use clear language, positive terms, and specific behaviors. Taking turns, cleaning up your room, using gentle touches, putting laundry away, using the Safe Place, helping to set the table and asking for help are examples of behaviors a family might value and wish to include.
If you are making a Ways To Be Helpful Board, you will want to include lots of behaviors and social skills like “taking turns,” along with some chore-like tasks such as “put your books away.” When you have your list, take photos of family members conducting the activities on your list. Print the photos, label them and attach Velcro to the backs. Don’t fret if your list is quite long! Choose a handful of the photos, post them on your Ways to be Helpful Board, and store the rest in a safe location. Use the Velcro backing to change the behaviors weekly (or as needed) to target behaviors that bubble up naturally as life happens.
Job Board (Older)
If you are making a Job Board, the family has the additional task of assigning age-appropriate jobs to each family member. You will need to write each family member’s name on the Job Board and allow room for four or five tasks beneath each name. (Job Boards are best for older children and tend to list tasks like chores more than social skills like turn-taking.)
Follow the Family Meeting, photography, and Velcro instructions above. Choose a handful of photos, post them under the appropriate family members’ names on the Job Board, and store the rest in a safe location. Use the Velcro backing to rotate, add and remove chores weekly (or as needed). Be certain the jobs are age-appropriate for the person who is responsible for them. For example, scrubbing bathroom tile isn’t appropriate for Shubert, but he’s able sweep with the cordless vacuum. Sophie can’t quite wrangle the cordless vacuum yet, but she is capable of dusting.
The more we are able to structure the jobs, the more successful children will be in executing them. It is our responsibility to scaffold children’s emerging Executive Skills so they can develop healthily! In the Bug Family, Mom and Dad teach (and re-teach) the jobs regularly, provide verbal reminders, help redirect the kids when they become distracted, encourage constantly, set a specific time for doing chores twice a week, and celebrate the kids’ efforts as well as the finished product.
A Note About Allowances
The Job Board tracks jobs so every family member can see his or her responsibilities and contributions. It does not track jobs in order to bestow an allowance upon completion. When we tie allowances to children’s regular chores, we are using external motivation to get the job done. Conscious Discipline encourages intrinsic motivation. The “reward” for doing your job is knowing you’re helping the family run smoothly. Knowing you’ve contributed in meaningful ways releases a feel-good bath of neurochemicals and hormones in the brain’s reward centers. Tapping into the brain’s natural reward system builds intrinsic motivation. An allowance may be useful for teaching money management, but tying it to your regular family jobs will disrupt the brain’s internal reward process and the development of intrinsic motivation. (You may, however, choose to provide money for special jobs outside of the usual Job Board responsibilities.)