Chores. Does anybody really like to do chores? They can be boring and mundane. They can be a source of tension in the home over who has to do the chores. Why not get everyone involved and make it a time for challenges as well as learning. First things first. Our children need to know the difference between a chore and a skill. A chore is an activity that needs to be done in order to keep the house running smoothly. A skill is an activity that needs to be learned to help your child live on their own and use in their workplace. Why not start out with a family meeting and let everyone help to create a list of family chores and individual skills. Then break the chore list up among family members and certain days the chores need to be done. Skills can be learned over time and with the help of all the family members.
Now that you have a list ready there are a few Do’s and Don’ts to keep in mind regarding chores and your children.
Do focus on your child’s age and skill levels. To keep chores from being mundane, you might need to challenge your child to get their chores done. If something is simple like folding laundry or taking out the trash, you might want to challenge them to a race. You get something accomplished, while they get something accomplished, and see who can get their chore done first.
Do offer praise. Everyone enjoys a pat on the back for a job well done, so why not be the first person to give your children praise. “Nice job team!” or “I like the way you were able to be quick and thorough when cleaning the bathroom.” Tell them something specific you appreciated about the job they did. Children want to feel needed and know they can make a contribution to the family.
Don’t insist on perfection. Start by showing your child how you would like a chore done. Then have them help you do the chore the next time. Finally, let them start doing the chore on their own. No one feels like they are contributing if there is someone else constantly looking over their shoulder or criticizing their work. For the youngest children, you can go back and do the chore to your specifications later when they are not around. Confidence building is the ultimate goal.
Don’t micromanage. Chores will never get done if you have to tell your children when, for how long or how a chore should be done. Set up some simple rules and let them be responsible for themselves. “Before you may be excused from the table to go play, you need to take your own dishes to the sink.” Another simple rule might be, ”You need to pick up all the laundry off your floor and take it to the laundry room before you get your video game time.” Gently remind them at first and with time they should start doing their chores out of habit.
The chore list should help to keep the whole family accountable to each other. This in turn, can create unity and confidence for your children.