So often we underestimate what kids can do. If we can withstand some messiness and slow work kids can be amazing helpers in our home.
Not only being helpful, research by Marty Rossmann, emeritus associate professor of family education at the University of Minnesota, shows that involving children in household chores from a young age can have a positive impact later in life.
Her study also shows that the age at which a child starts participating in household tasks has an impact on their success later in life.
The earlier they start, the better.
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF KIDS DOING CHORES?
- They learn to be independent
Parents are not going to be around for lifelong. So they need to know how to take care of themselves without the constant help from a parent.
- They learn to be responsible
By involving kids in household chores, they learn that it is everyone’s duty to take part in running the household. It helps to prevent them from growing up being entitled. They must realize that everything in life is not gonna be handed to them easily and it requires work to make things happen in life.
- Boosts their self-esteem
When they do chores, they feel proud and gets a sense of accomplishment. When we appreciate how their help made our day better, they feel important and realize their capabilities in helping others.
- They learn time management techniques
Household chores are part of life as long as we breathe and learning them from a young age help them to get accustomed to it. They learn to include it in their day with all other activities including studies and play.
Time management is a valuable skill to have in adult life too. When you reach adulthood, you need to juggle different areas of your life like work, family and running a household.
When they start managing their chores from a young age, they are learning important life skills that’s gonna help them when they are adults.
- They learn empathy
When they take part in the running of the household, they realize what their parents do is not an easy job. They appreciate what you do even more and that helps to build a stronger bond between parents and kids.
- They learn teamwork
They learn to work with other people. They learn to deal with disagreements and about the consequences of failing to do a task because there are people holding them accountable. They can later carry these skills over to school, workplace, and even marriage.
There are so many benefits to involving kids in household chores. It helps them to develop as a well-rounded person.
Ok, now that we know chores are good for kids, how do we get started?
HOW TO GET KIDS STARTED ON CHORES?
I wish it was as easy as we talk about it. We, as mothers dream of kids doing their chores without nagging and whining.
The whining itself turns off many parents. On top of that, having to nag is another draining chore for us. So many times we get tired and feel like we would rather do it ourselves.
But there has to be some way, right? Let’s see how we can get kids to co-operate with chores.
START FROM A YOUNG AGE
Start encouraging your child to do chores starting from when they are as young as two years. While age-appropriate chore charts can give you a reference, not all children might not be able to do all the chores according to it.
Toddlers can do simple chores like putting the toys away, putting dirty clothes in the laundry basket, etc.
Pre-schoolers can fold small clothes, wear their clothes by themselves, learn to keep their belongings in their place, etc.
If you didn’t start at a young age, you can still do now. Let them know why you want to introduce them to doing chores on their own and how it will benefit everyone in the house including them.
DON’T SAY NO WHEN THEY WANT TO HELP
Kids are usually eager to help and offer help by asking “Can I do this?”. But parents sometimes hesitate to let them do what they ask for because we either think they won’t be able to do it or we worry about the mess we have to clean.
I would say grab the opportunity and let them help. Because if you always discourage them from helping they might not come to you again with the request.
If they ask for something beyond their capability like if a three-year-old asks for a knife to cut veggies, I wouldn’t let her do it. But instead, I would look around and offer something else that she can do for me.
And if I am in a hurry to get something done and have only limited time, I would tell her she can do it for 5 minutes and then mommy will do it to finish it soon.
And they are surely messy and more work for us. But remember it is a learning experience for them. When they are able to do a chore in their own imperfect way, they feel a sense of accomplishment and will have the desire to do more.
They will learn to do it better from the mistakes they make. It also teaches them the important lesson of trying again and again when they fail.
ASSIGN CHORES BY AGE AND USE CHORE CHARTS
Assign chores according to their age and their capabilities. Use the list of chores as a reference, but before assigning the chores measure their ability to do them. Not every child is the same and you don’t want to put your child under unwanted pressure.
Chore charts are helpful because it helps them to know what they are supposed to do. And it also motivates them to do the chores because, at the end of the day, they can check off the items on the chart.
LET THEM CHOOSE THEIR CHORES
When you assign chores to each kid, let them pick what they enjoy. There could be some chores that your daughter loves to do but your son doesn’t and vice versa. And rotate chores every week so as to avoid monotony and nobody is stuck with the chore they dislike, for too long.
But some chores are “must-dos” no matter if they like or dislike it. For example, kids should always be taught to clean up after themselves.
I can’t let my daughter get away with picking up the toys she scattered on the floor just because she doesn’t like to do it.
Make it a habit to expose your kids to chores as much as possible, starting from when they are toddlers.
This helps them to learn about the chores their parents do to run the household. Children have the intrinsic desire to help. But if the chores are done as a team, they will be more motivated to do the chores.
You can divide a bigger task into smaller ones and assign each part to each kid. And tell them how if everyone works together, the task could be completed easily.
For example, if you are sweeping the floors, you can ask the kids to dust the furniture and put everything on the floor back in its place.
Or if you are cooking a meal, ask them to help with washing the veggies and cut them.
You can keep each session interesting by talking about your day and sharing funny stories. When you do chores with them, you can also show them how to do each task so that you can make sure they are able to do them safely. And assist them when needed so that they don’t feel inefficient.
HELP THEM DEVELOP A CHORE ROUTINE
Set a specific time every day in their schedule for doing chores. This helps them to be prepared and easier for you as well.
Having a routine also helps to make it a habit. This means fewer requests from your side and easier co-operation from your kids. A routine along with a chore chart helps to develop a system that benefits everyone.
When they have a routine, you can expect to get chores done on time. It might not be as easy as it sounds. Because kids will moan and whine, but over time when they realize the expectations set on them, you can expect things to get easier.
To help them get chores done on time, you can give instructions like,
“I would like to get it done in 5 minutes so that we get time to read a story”
“You can go play outside once you have put all the dirty clothes in the hamper”
For smaller kids, you can motivate them to finish the chores by setting a timer. Set a timer and ask them to finish picking up the toys before it goes off. You can use your creativity to encourage kids to participate.
PATIENCE IS THE KEY
It can feel like a dream to have the little helpers do their chores every day happily. Except that it cannot happen at once you introduce the chore system.
You have to have the patience to implement this new routine. It can take kids a while to get used to it. And be ready to accept all the messy work they do. Oddly folded clothes and imperfectly cleaned floors, accept all as a part of the system.
They will get better in years and it will all be worth the effort.
Do not criticize or scold them, as it will discourage from continuing the participation.
Gently encourage their effort and show them how they can do it better the next time. Let them know that their participation has an important role in running the household.
DON’T FORCE IT
The whole point of chore system is to teach your kids important life skills when they will live on their own. At the same time, you receive help and that should make your life easier too.
But forcing it on kids will have a negative impact. Implementing the chore system should not be another chore for you.
The idea behind making kids do chores is to make them realize their own potential and role in running the household. But it should stem from their own initiative.
Start with the chores they like and slowly build it up from there, by providing support and appreciation.
Now to the big question.
SHOULD KIDS GET PAID TO DO CHORES?
Many families have some sort of reward system in place to motivate kids and teach money management.
But according to many families, paying them or giving rewards can backfire after some time. Because they always start expecting some sort of reward to do basic chores.
And later at a stage, if the rewards or money don’t motivate them anymore, they might not do the chores anymore.
There are parents who might disagree but since each family sets their own rules, it’s up to each family to decide.
I personally would never pay my kids to do chores. Because I want them to learn the truth sooner than later. The truth that no one is going to pay them for taking care of themselves.
And being a part of a family means helping each other without expecting rewards. It should be expressed as a result of intrinsic motivation and not extrinsic one.
You can reward them with sufficient appreciation and good words. That’s not gonna spoil them, but only encourage them to become more responsible.
Now I would like to hear from you… How did you get your kids started on chores and what do you struggle with? Let me know in the comments below!
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- 17 basic life skills your child must learn before leaving home
- 12 smart tips to raise independent kids
- What every daughter needs from her mom
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