Something I found on the internet that I've tweaked so much that I can rightly call my own is "Kid of the Day." How it works is this: Each day is a different kid's "day." This means that if there is a decision to be made, they get to make it. Things like who gets the middle seat in the van, what kind of sandwiches we have for lunch, what movie they get to watch or who gets to sit by Mommy at dinner time. They will still argue, but when the all powerful phrase, "It's MY day!" is said, the argument is over. The trump card has been played. Each day it rotates, crowning the next kid decision-maker of the day. Of course this doesn't get rid of all fighting, but it does reduce specific recurring instances of fighting and whining. They know that their day is coming and they will get to choose what they want.
I've also added this philosophy to chores. There are certain chores that must be done everyday. I've divided them into four groups and each kid is assigned one group a day. It rotates with the "day's" kid getting the easy stuff. For example: If it's your day you get 1. clean the table off after meals 2. pick up toys/sweep the kitchen 3. day off of unloading dishwasher (we have 4 kids and 3 dishwasher zones) 4. pick up hall/stairs/landing.
Other kids get:
- kid #2 - 1. wash table 2. pick up/sweep dining room 3. unload top of dishwasher 4. set napkins/silverware for dinner
- kid #3 - 1. switch laundry to dryer 2. pick up/sweep back porch 3. unload bottom of dishwasher 4. set plates/cups out for dinner
- kid #4 - 1. make couch pillows look nice 2. pick up/sweep living room 3. unload silverware 4. set condiments etc. out for dinner
The kids have really taken to this and not only keep impeccable track of whose "day" it is, but have memorized what chores go with which day. (i.e. If it was my day yesterday, then I unload the top of the dishwasher today.) The chart itself is almost superfluous as we rarely have to consult it anymore.
If you're in need of a kid chore-management system or want a trick to help make kid decisions, try it out. If you already have something that works, let me know. My philosophy on this whole home-management job (as well as life in general) is that I use whatever works best...until something better comes along.