By Lisa Reichelt, Parent Coach
Family chores are a controversial topic. Parents can’t seem to agree on the best practices for engaging their children in helping around the house. We’ve all heard the saying “Back in my day, kids had chores around the house!” What was it like “back in YOUR day?” Did your parents expect you to help out around the house? Many parents think that it is easier to do the chores themselves because then the job is done correctly the first time. I’d like to suggest that children of all ages are capable and benefit from having family chores. In fact, a study from the University of Minnesota affirms this point, “Involving children in household tasks at an early age helps them learn values and empathy as well as responsibility.”
How young is too young for Chores?
Children as young as 2 years old can be given simple tasks to help maintain the household.
- Make a game of the chore-
Parents will find it helpful to make a game out of cleaning up the toys before dinner. You can sing a song, count the toys or challenge them to pick up just one color at a time. Toddlers will love the special attention from their parents and will establish a routine. Soon you may find that your toddler will insist on picking up the toys before dinner even when you don’t think of it.
- Give them a big person job with a small device-
Toddlers love to imitate their elders. Purchasing a kid sized broom and dustpan can be a great motivator. How about a stool that is just the right size for them to help with dishes? Or you could give them a tub of soapy water and some of the unbreakable items to practice washing.
- Hold them accountable for their space-
Even toddlers can learn how to straighten their bedding. If you model making the bed with them, they can take on the task and find great reward in a job “well” done. Don’t forget to heap on the praise, even if the bed is very wrinkled.
How to match the chore to the child
Deciding which chores your children undertake is important. Experience shows that involving the children in the decision helps to give the children ownership of the job.
- Sit down with your children and discuss what chores need to be done around the house.
- Ask them how they think they could help out.
- Once they choose a chore, support them in accomplishing it. Model how it should be done, but allow them some leeway to learn.
- Teach your children collaboration skills by having them complete chores together.
- Chore Charts and other devices will help to create the routine necessary for success.
Ideas from other families for Kid Friendly Chores
One way to start is by asking other families how they handle teaching their children to do some chores. When I was young, my mom put together a weekly chart for helping with dishes after dinner, cleaning up our rooms and setting the table for dinner. Each of my siblings signed up for the spot they wanted for the week. My favorite chore was washing dishes. I loved the warm soapy water and my sisters had to bring the dishes to me!
While I was raising my family, I allowed each of my school-age children to choose a meal for one day of the week. Not only did they pick the meal, they also were in charge of making it. Sometimes they needed help, but usually they enjoyed the accomplishment of being the cook for the evening. We also have great family stories of many mishaps!
The bottom line is that finding chores for your children to perform helps to build character and gives them a sense of belonging. These are life lessons that your children need in order to become healthy adults. It’s always easier to “Do it yourself” but who ever said parenting was easy? Don’t be afraid to take the challenge and become an awesome parent.
What were chores like when you were a kid? Have you had success with kids and chores in your family? Want to hear what others are doing? Join our Facebook group to join the conversation or share in the comments below.
INTERESTED IN COACHING? CLICK HERE FOR A FREE CONSULTATION.