At various times over the last year (like, say, when she has insisted on being the one to move the clean utensils from the dishwasher to their drawer, only to drop all of them on the floor en route) I have referred to my daughter as The Unhelper. She is not quite three, and not quite as big a contributor to the orderliness and cleanliness of our household as her enthusiastic choruses of “I DID IT!!!” (and my equally excited responses of “WAY TO GO!!”) throughout the day would suggest. But she is all about the trying, and I am all about the letting her. After all, what does having to rewash some utensils really matter if it means that in a few more seasons she’ll be the flesh-and-blood form of the designated-dishwasher-unloader for which I’ve always longed?
Now is the prime time to channel her spirit of service, her passion for pitching in, her avidity for assisting me! Enter: the Melissa & Doug Magnetic Responsibility Chart. For everything from potty training to counting down the days until Christmas, we are all about charts.
The Melissa & Doug Responsibilty Chart comes with 25 preprinted responsibility magnets and 2 blank magnets on which custom responsibilities could be written with a dry erase marker.
It also comes with 63 smiley face reward magnets.
The upper magnetic board of the chart is sectioned off into a column with spaces for the chore magnets and separate columns for the days of the week, under which the idea is to collect a smiley face for each responsibility met each day. The lower magnetic board of the chart is a dry erase board that doubles as a place to store the extra smileys and responsibilities (unless you live with a toddler like mine who would take all the smileys to play in her room, never to be seen again—if you live with someone like that, I recommend storing the extras in a plastic baggie just out of reach). As with everything Melissa & Doug that we’ve ever played with, the quality of the materials used is excellent and the colors and graphics are very attractive to a toddler.
With a minimal amount of debate over which responsibility magnets to use for our first week (I just can’t turn her loose on the glassware in the dishwasher yet, no matter how ready she insists she is), we easily found seven achievable, age-appropriate goals. Her favorite, because it has an ice cream cone on it: “say please and thank you.” My favorite, because . . . well, for obvious reasons: “stop whining.”
You’ll note that our favorite magnets are not necessarily the things at which we excel. Yet. But we are SO rocking some of the others! Either that or she’s done a little rearranging of the happy faces when she thought I wasn’t looking.
. . . I see the seeds of life lessons taking root, lessons just as big as learning to get dressed and say “please” and to bathe and to put away the army of small toys that make barefoot navigation to her bedside at night rather hazardous. Lessons in things like recognizing a goal, doing the work to reach it, and being proud of having done it for herself.
And equally important: lessons in falling short of a goal, being disappointed when the reward isn’t given anyway, realizing that moving a reward from another task only leaves a hole somewhere else, and resolving to keep trying to reach the goal.
We’ve had a lot of those “keep trying” talks, but seldom am I sure just how much is absorbed. Then, while we were out today, she asked me for the sippy cup I had forgotten at home. I told her that I had forgotten to bring it and that I was sorry. And then braced for the meltdown.
Only instead, from the backseat, just a sigh followed by: That’s okay, Mama. You just have to keep trying.
I might not deserve a smiley face for “bring everything with you that your kid’s going to need” today, but she’s definitely getting the smiley for not whining. And I’m going to dry erase “cut your mother some slack” on one of the blank ones just so I can reward her for that today, too. She’s totally earned it.
Giveaway Note! We are so thankful to Paul at StoreforKnowledge.com for the opportunity to have tried out and reviewed this product. It is such a cool learning tool that we want to share one with a friend! So head over to OtherSuch.net follow the instructions to enter the giveaway, and OtherSuch will order one of the responsibility charts from Store for Knowledge and have it shipped to the winner. (The Giveaway opens at 8:00 a.m. on March 15, 2011 and closes at 11:59 p.m. on March 16, 2011.) Good Luck!