Tuesday, April 12

Crochet Helps Make Chores Cheerful?

(Bottom of Bank)

 What is that?

Toy Tester Bob's endorsement, while looking back on his earlier years with Cheerful Chores

Toy Tester Bob
"It was fun and not complicated. It was easy to keep track of my money. It made me feel like I was earning something real because it was physical."

The basic idea: crochet as many "coins" as you need, a Parent Bank, and a Child's Bank (one for each child) using craft foam sheets and a small amount of colorful yarn. Everyone starts the day or week with some coins in each bank. Coins can be color-coded for each child to prevent accidental mixing. As the day or week goes on, the child can earn more coins, or may have to pay some fines or behavior "taxes." 

It's great for recycling containers, leftover yarns, and scraps of craft foam sheets. Older children who know crochet basics will enjoy helping with this project. 
I've created 4 site pages about this downloadable crochet pattern: at my DesigningVashti pattern shop, in my Ravelry shop, and the original "Crochet Family Banking!" project record. It also has its own Flickr photo set (most of the photos in it are fully public; a few, such as the template images and assembly, are accessible via a link in the pattern).

I was inspired by the philosophy of these books: Playful Parenting (1993) and Playwise (1996), both written by Denise Champman Weston & Mark S. Weston (published by Tarcher in the USA). I wish I had developed it sooner. In my limited experience (with one son), I imagine it would have worked well when he was as young as age five or so; however, I started using it when he was age eight, after trying other methods. It gradually lost out to the power of real money by the age of ten or so. 

Best of all: It appealed to his innate good nature and strengthened it. It rewarded Toy Tester Bob for considering other family members. It seems that the fair-minded purity of a young child responds beautifully to the idea of "taxes" as a negative consequence, rather than some type of punishment.
Even a young child can understand that if s/he doesn't do chores, a different family member has to. The "tax" is the price the child pays to reward someone else for doing that chore. I found that this cultivates compassion and empathy for others. The real message is that one's actions impact others, and when you love your family, you want to be responsible.
Inside of Bank

I wanted to hold off on using the traditional weekly allowance system of real cash for several reasons. Using crocheted coins remove the risks of careless handling of real cash. When someone gave my son cash as a gift, he preferred that I convert it into crocheted money and I was very happy to do so!

Children aren't born taking real money seriously the same way that adults do, so they're likely to do crazy things like:
- Leave cash sitting out in the open
- Stuff it partially into little pockets with no awareness of when it falls out
- Make unequal trades; for example, give someone a dollar bill in return for five pennies, because the five "pieces" of money look like more than one "piece."

Other advantages of this system for a parent like me:

  1. The “taxes” consequence is simple and easy for a child to comprehend. Parent sees real results faster, saving parent from that “wasted breath” feeling. 
  2. It's low maintenance. Parent can see at a glance how child is doing. 
  3. It seems to encourage saving! A pleasant surprise in my experience was that crocheted coins were rarely cashed in. Perhaps because there was something cozy and satisfying in the handmade coins themselves? They are pleasantly thick, so a stack grows in size quickly.
The appeal of this system for a child like mine:
  1. It’s playful, cheerful, and tactile. It seemed to charm him into making better behavior choices. It also made character-building life lessons more enjoyable, less punitive and bossy. 
  2. A crochet coin is big and colorful, so it feels like a lot of money to a young child. It seemed to change the experience of money, making it look and feel cozier, more substantial and satisfying. 
  3. It's simple and easy to understand: adults forget how confusing and abstract money is. Teachers of young children know how much struggle it takes to distinguish and memorize the meaningful differences between seemingly look-alike coins and bills. During this developmental stage, Cheerful Chores served as a kind of money that Toy Tester Bob could relate to, and start to understand basic concepts about earning, saving, and budgeting. 


  1. Brilliant concept! Can't wait to try it to my family... I will introduce this idea to our school... And let you know regardless what the outcome is... Thank you!