Do you want your children to think of themselves as guests in your home or as vital family members who contribute to its daily operation? If you answered “family members making a vital contribution” then you might be ready to look at household chores with a new eye.
Chores are an important part of a child’s sense of independence, and help to teach that duties and responsibilities don’t have to be onerous and tedious. Kids who are assigned a regular slate of chores to complete will often find creative ways to get them done, and may even find newer, better ways to achieve desired results.
The simple act of completing chores on schedule can contribute to developing both discipline and a strong work ethic. Independence, responsibility, creativity and innovation are all traits that can enhance it.
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If you’re concerned about getting that roll-the-eyes, “you’ve got to be kidding” stare from your kids when you tell them they’re now responsible for taking out the trash every Wednesday, you’re not alone. But instead of threatening or grounding them for six months, try this: re-frame the chore to make it fun. A little motivation never hurts and helps drive home the idea that work is worth doing well.
If, for example, if one of the weekend mornings is devoted to weekly housecleaning, you could:
· Have a race – “Can you finish cleaning the bathroom before I’m done in the kitchen?”
· Play a game – Set a number of points per project… Add for ‘extra good work’ and/or ‘no reminders needed.’ Subtract for sub-par work. (Give a prize if you want e.g an extra bedtime story or 15 minutes later to bed for example.)
· Add music – “The first person to start Saturday morning chores gets to choose the music that we all listen to while we’re working.” (This is also a good way to check in on your kiddos’ taste in music from time to time.)
· Make a date to do something fun when everything’s done. (Give yourself “bonus points” if it’s fun and FREE like taking a walk, or playing catch in the backyard!)
Keep in mind that the important thing is that the child learns to do the task, rather than worrying about getting it perfect. Every successful adult interviewed for What Kids Need to Succeed shared responsibilities at home, and many had jobs outside the family to earn money.