Several months ago our kids began begging for a chore chart - the kind that uses stickers to mark when certain tasks are completed, similar to charts they've used at school.

Several months ago our kids began begging for a chore chart - the kind that uses stickers to mark when certain tasks are completed, similar to charts they've used at school.

This seemed like a good idea because my wife and I had been talking about how our kids (now 6 and 8) are capable of doing more around the house than cleaning up their toys.

They're old enough to empty the dishwasher, put away laundry, wipe tables and counters, etc. So we got to work - rather, my wife got to work - ordering

tiny stickers in bulk and making two giant charts with categories such as "Make bed," "Try new food," "Laundry/ Dishes," "Read 20 minutes," "Obey joyfully at bath & bedtime" and "Obedience wildcard."

Each category had its own assigned point value, and when someone accumulated 200 points, we would go play laser tag as a family.

My wife and I had to surrender some control over certain household tasks and know that the end result might not be quite as thorough or tidy as it would be if we were to complete it. And some things required more detailed instructions than I anticipated. When we asked our son to clean th dining room table, he grabbed a broom and started sweeping crumbs onto the floor.

The kids were gung ho for about two weeks, then tapered off. I can't blame them.

We did the chore chart during the school year, and trying to juggle homework, assigned reading and all the other after-school activities was probably too much for them.

Or maybe the reward wasn't unique or enticing enough. Or maybe they got tired of Daddy forgetting to put stickers on the chart. Whatever the reasons, the laser tag outing never happened.

That hasn't stopped our kids from asking for an allowance, however. They now understand what cold, hard cash can buy: video games and animatronic puppies.

So far, I'm reluctant to become a walking ATM for my kids as a reward for participating in everyday household tasks. Positive reinforcement can be effective, and I understand other arguments for an allowance (money management, responsibility). But there are so many areas of my kids' lives (school, camps, church groups) where they are rewarded for merely doing what they're supposed to be doing.

Perhaps that's just part of being a kid, but it concerns me; much of adult life consists of performing thankless tasks.

I do get glimpses of chore participation happening around the house naturally.

When asked, the kids usually take our puppy outside without complaining (a good excuse to climb trees or have a sword fight), and my daughter even offered to pick up the dog's poop on a walk the other day. I obviously took her up on the offer.

She also recently requested we make a new chore chart, claiming she loved the last one. I told her that last time she and her brother quickly lost interest in it. She denied this.

"I can talk to Mommy about it," I said, "but why do you want a chore chart?"

"Because when you do something, you get a sticker on the chart," she said, confused as to how I could miss such a self-evident raison d'être.

-Joel Oliphint is a freelance writer who once earned a shiny quarter for cleaning all the floors. Those were the days....Now get off my lawn!