If you've ever tried to keep up with all of the cleaning, cooking, shopping, laundry and miscellaneous tasks of a household, you know that it's not a job built for one. As your children begin to grow up, it's time to teach them the value of contributing to the family by lending a helping hand. Children of all ages can learn to help with chores, when guided by a loving parent. Stay positive and encouraging, and you might be surprised at how easy it is to motivate your kids to help.
Benefits of Chores and Routines
Believe it or not, your children want you to assign them chores and stick to a clear routine throughout the week. Chores teach children responsibility, as well as giving them a sense of pride and accomplishment for contributing to the family. According to HealthyChildren.org, children do best when routines are predictable, consistent and regular. When you assign chores for your kids to do at the same time each day or week, they can rest assured that even though life is busy, some things remain constant. Routines provide an underlying stability for kids when life gets hectic and it seems everyone in the family is running in a different direction.
Everyone in the family can contribute in some way to the running of the household, even your toddler. Assign chores thoughtfully. If you give your child too many chores or a task that is too overwhelming, he'll likely resist to do much of any of them. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends that putting away toys is an appropriate chore for a 2-year-old. Similarly, getting the mail or feeding pets is appropriate for 4 and 5-year-olds and clearing the table after meals and taking out the trash are appropriate chores for 6- to 7-year-olds. For 8 -to 9-year-olds, sweeping or mopping and taking care of their own bathing are good chores, and children age 10 and older can help prepare dinner, mow the lawn or pick up a few things at the grocery store.
Set Clear Expectations
It's not enough to tell your child, "Clean up your room," or "Put your clothes away," because his understanding of the chore might differ from yours. When you initially assign chores, show your child exactly what he needs to do and how to do it. You may have to help him the first few times, but it will help you in the long run, with less nagging, and fewer times you have to correct or re-do his chores that weren't up to your standards. A chore chart can help both you and your child keep track of chores as they are completed.
Encourage and Praise
Recognize your child's hard work with regular praise, a sticker on a chart or a tangible reward like a weekly allowance. Children respond well to positive reinforcement. Rather than picking on the things that your child hasn't done, recognize when she completes a chore without a reminder or does a good job at an assigned chore. Giving regular kudos for a job well-done gives your child the motivation and satisfaction he needs to keep up the good work.