Setting Expectations…for kids!

August 15th, 2008 by Gallagher John No Comments

My two sons, Brendan (11) and Joseph(9) are blessings to me. I enjoy watching them grow and they are growing up too fast!

I have to admit that teaching them the value of managing their resources(time, especially!) has been a challenge for me. One of the tools I have used in my personal life is called the ‘Time Block’ where I outline where I need to invest my ‘time’ and then ‘block’ it out on my weekly calendar. I use Outlook for this. Each block of time is broken into 30-minute intervals on a daily basis and I try to plan my ‘perfect’ week. It includes activities for the key areas of my life: 1) Faith, 2) Those closest to me – Chris & the boys, 3) Family & Friends, 4) Self (physical & personal development), and 5) Finances.

My kids needed something similar, but nothing I tried seemed to work. They had their goals & they were simple – allowance & time to do things THEY wanted to do. To achieve the goals, there were certain basic expectations we had as parents, but at the end of each week, the lines were blurred. So, I set about to set up a ‘visual control’ for the kids as well. If a time block worked for me, why wouldn’t it work for the kids? In fact, how better to get them to manage their priorities in life, but to get them to block their time at a young age?

I needed the time block to be simple and colorful to keep their interest, and visual for me to check up on their expectations and 3M graciously obliged by introducing a post-it weekly planner. Those who know me well know that sticky notes are a necessity of mylife! In fact, my brother-in-law saw this at my house and said “Staples saw you coming when they brought this out!”

I set the example and outlined my week on the post-it calendar and used it to model for the kids development of their own. The process was fun and painful at the same time. The kids enjoyed the cutting & pasting, but didn’t really like that they had to write down when they needed to do it. They also wanted to create ‘shortcuts’ – “Dad, can’t I just write this down on Monday and they write ‘every day’ on one sticky, instead of making 5?” Nope…Every day. Below is the outcome of the exercise…

Purple = family time

Green = Basic expectations (make bed, put away clothes)

Orange = Projects – These items are allowance earners(clean garage, vacuum basement, READ BOOKS)!!

We posted these in the garage right by the entry door to the house. Now, I am not naive enough to think that everything will not be perfect and the kids will NOW do things without being asked. Even I don’t hit my time block 100% and I have been doing it for years! However, in the first two weeks, the boys are much more aware of their responsibilities.

So, tell me, what tools do you use to manage your priorities? What about your children – how do or did you set their expectations?