Getting the children to help around the house is an issue for all parents.
When asked to pitch in, children are masters at evasion. Suddenly, they have homework that needs their urgent attention, their stomach hurts, they have a hearing problem (no matter how loudly they are spoken to) or, they are planning a long session in the toilet. This article will evaluate the reasons why children should help with the daily chores and suggest ways that will encourage their completion. Employ creative, positive and fun methods to help make these plans a reality.
Why children need chores:
- Chores teach accountability, responsibility and commitment.
- Chores increase children’s competence and boost their self-esteem.
- Chores are a valuable life skill that will be the building blocks of a lifetime of healthy work habits.
- Overcoming children’s reluctance to do chores teaches them an important life lesson; that from time to time we are required to do things we don’t want to do.
- Including children in the pursuit of everyday chores reinforces their connection to the family unit through cooperation and teamwork. Children learn that when they do their share, they are helping the household run smoothly and they are benefiting, not just themselves, but the whole family.
Encouraging children to do their chores:
- Parents must model appropriate housekeeping behavior for their children.
- Devise a chore chart, listing all necessary weekly chores and monthly chores.
- Place the chart in a highly visible location, i.e. on the refrigerator door or a bulletin board.
- Assign age-appropriate tasks to your children according to their mental and physical capabilities.
- When there are tasks that can be done by more than one child, have the children choose which week they want to be assigned which task. This gives the child the feeling that they are participating in the decision-making.
- Be consistent. Don’t let your child get out of the habit of doing chores.
- Do not assume that your children know how to tackle their assigned chore. Demonstrate to them in step-by-step instructions how to get the job done.
- Give reasonable time limits for completing the set tasks.
- Encourage older children to assist and supervise younger siblings.
- Always remember to praise your children for their efforts. When you show anger at half finished tasks they will respond accordingly. Instead, praise what was completed and use encouraging language to urge the child to finish their task.
Making the job fun:
- Doing the chores can become a burden if they are introduced to children as a boring activity. Change the tone of task for younger children by singing songs, such as “everybody cleanup, cleanup, cleanup, just like that…” and “this is the way we wash the clothes”. Older children might like to listen to their favourite CD.
- Try devising a game for a shared task to make the time go quickly. My children like to play the “white game” when we fold our white towels. We name as many white things as we can think of and the boring task of folding towels becomes an event to look forward to.
Chores are important. Once chores have been completed, thereby freeing up some “adult” time, reward your children by participating in an activity of their choice; for example: playing a game with them, watching their favourite television show with them, reading a book to them, spending some time on the internet with them, sitting and talking to them etc.
If some of the above can be achieved the household will run more smoothly with less stressed adults, and children who are becoming increasingly capable, responsible and reliable.