There are many successful parents who mastered the task of making their kids do chores. As a mother of four I should be able to say: oh, that’s simple, you just tell them what to do and they have to do it or else. No, it’s not that simple. It didn’t start that way with my kids. I made many mistakes. Until my oldest was eight I didn’t give the kids any chores, because I just wanted them to have fun. I felt bad about making them do any work. I did all the house work. I picked up toys and cleaned their rooms. My kids didn’t know what ‘chores’ meant. Then I had a baby and literally couldn’t keep up with anything. The mess and clutter became too much and I finally decided that it was time for the kids to do (at least some) chores.
One lesson I learned about chores, I don’t want to repeat with my younger children, was that you do not give your kids a favor by not giving them any chores, just the opposite. You encourage carelessness, laziness, and selfishness. You teach them that it is OK that someone else does everything for them. In the future that’s what they will expect. It might be hard for them to understand, that they have to do some work at home. They may think you are upset with them and become upset themselves and maybe even resentful.
There are many benefits of involving your children in house work. They learn important skills that prepare them for independent life. They learn to be responsible. It gives them the feel of pride and accomplishment. When you are patient with them doing chores (lets face it, most of the time you would do it better) and do not interfere, it will give them the belief that you trust them that they can do it. They will become more confident not just in doing chores, but also in other areas like school, homework, soccer, etc.
Here are some simple steps to get your kids to do their chores and do them willingly:
Start young. As soon as you start disciplining your children, around the age of two, you can also start giving them chores to do. They should be very simple, like putting toys and books away. Since toddlers don’t have the skill to line the books neatly on the shelf, or sort toys by kind and put them in special bins, it is best to get one large chest for toys and another for books. At this age children don’t understand the concept of cleaning up after themselves. They also have a short attention span and after a few minutes they might start playing with the toys they were supposed to put away. You will need to remind them and help them, to get it done. Praise them when they are finished, even if there is still a toy or two laying around. It will make them happy and proud and more eager to do it again the next day.
If your children are school age and you haven’t start them yet on doing any chores, do it as soon as possible. At first they might think that they are being punished and feel resentful. In that case you will need to explain to them that chores are normal part of life and there is no way around it. Do not give in to their excuses. Be persistent. If you do not consistently stick to your way they will know they can get away with it. And they will. Be kind, but firm. At this point the best way to appoint chores is to make a chore schedule and post it on the fridge. You can go to www.Handipoints.com to create and print a chart of chores and also learn some useful tips. Elementary school age children respond well to rewards. Use a reward system that will motivate them, but don’t exaggerate. If you have more than one child you can include some competition. For example, whoever does their chores every day (without grumbling), gets to pick what activity the family could do the following weekend, like bowling, swimming, or going to the zoo. If that doesn’t work, you may have to remove some of their privileges, like no TV or video games until the chore is done.
Have patience. Kids will not do chores as well as you would, which might prompt you to help them or even do it for them. Don’t do it. By not stepping in you show them that you trust in their abilities and they will believe that they can do it. It will build their confidence. You have to remember that by giving your kids chores to do you are giving them a favor.