Chore Struggles

Question

My five-year-old daughter and seven-year-old son each have a chore chart in their bedroom. Once they do each chore, they flip the card over. The chart is well-organized and the chores are displayed in the order in which they must be done.

My children sometimes truly forget to do their chores, sometimes they dawdle when they are supposed to do their chores in a timely manner, and other times they do a poor quality job. I can't seem to find an effective consequence for dealing with those issues. My children have been taught how to do the chores correctly. I follow John's advice and "calmly, commandingly communicate" what I expect them to do.

Should I take a ticket away? (My daughter's target behavior is dawdling). On many occasions, I've done the chore myself and then later refused to let them do something they want to do. The problem is that at their ages, there aren't a lot of fun "extra" things that come up. They don't have friends coming over asking them to play or movies that they want to see. In the afternoons, my kids often want to play in our backyard, cook with me, ride bikes, etc... I've taken away those privileges but they usually just shrug their shoulders and say they'll play something else. It's no big deal to them. Occasionally, my daughter will throw a fit and cry in her "tantrum place". The sound of the screaming gives me a headache but it doesn't last too long. She gets over it and moves on. They have wonderful imaginations and could entertain themselves in their bedrooms for hours with only a couple books and a small toy. On days when we've planned to go to the zoo, for example, I've informed them that we are not going to go to the zoo after all since they didn't do their chores. Again, it's no big deal to them.

It doesn't do any good to put them to bed right after dinner because that's when they go to bed anyway. I've tried feeding the "offending" child his/her dinner early, having him/her take a shower early, and so forth but then my husband misses the one time during the day that he gets to see them. He gets home just in time to eat dinner with us and then put the kids to bed. He and I go to bed an hour after the kids go to bed since we have to get up early. The kids have such vivid imaginations that laying in bed an hour early is no problem for them.

I can't find anything that I can really take away that will have an impact. I'm struggling with how to motivate them to do their chores (and do so in a timely manner) without too much involvement on my part. Please give me your thoughts on the best approach.

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