The Honor Chart

It’s easily one of the best parenting ideas we’ve ever had.

It came about because we were trying to figure out ways for the kids to talk nicely to each other, to help each other–to not argue with us, to find ways to show respect.

Everyone wants their kids to act this way, but it’s not always easy.  How to reinforce the positive behavior while mitigating the negative?  We came up with the idea of an “honor chart.”

The idea comes from the Biblical virtue of Honor: Letting Someone Know You See How Valuable They Really Are.  The Apostle Paul writes about this Romans 12:3:” Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought…”

You see, even at a young age, we think we deserve more than we should, and it shows in the way we talk to others and how we treat others. So in our house, we developed the honor chart.  It has everybody’s name on it–even Mommy and Daddy’s–and we measure two things: honor and dishonor.

The baseline is the way you should treat people.  You should be respectful, you shouldn’t argue when asked to do something, you shouldn’t yell at your spouse.  Go above and beyond–offer to share a toy, help someone without being asked, for example–and you get an “honor mark.”  Fall below the baseline–by acting snippy or argumentative, not doing what you’re asked the first time–and you get a “dishonor mark.”

The goal is five honor marks a day.  If you get five, you get an extra 1/2 hour of game time or an extra show on the Apple TV.  It takes work to get to five.  If you get five honor marks Monday-Friday, then you get a special treat on Saturday.  Frozen yogurt or a small toy from Target.  Nothing big, but a tangible way of saying, “Thank you for treating others in the family with honor this week!”

The flipside is five dishonor marks–you lose either your game time or your 1/2 hour of tv.  This can happen on days when the kids have been cooped up in the house too long or when everyone is just crabby, but it rarely happens more than twice a week.  Kids really dislike losing their tv or game time.

You can earn more than five of each.  10 honor marks or 10 dishonor marks–well, you get the idea.

What’s cool is that it teaches kids in a tangible way that treating others with respect and kindness, showing others how important they are, is something that makes family life, school life–face it, just plain life–that much easier.

Will this work for you?  Maybe–maybe not.  I do encourage you to find ways to help everyone in your family practice this most important–and sadly lacking–Biblical virtue, and “Honor one another above yourselves.”

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