Getting Your Kids to Help With Chores
I will never forget when my friend Denise and her sparkly little 18 month old, Tiffany, came over one morning to visit. When coffee and conversation were over, Denise started to sing, “Now it’s time to clean up toys, clean up toys , clean up toys…” and little Tiffany, as if turned on by a switch, stood up and began to clean up the toys! One after the other she picked them up and dropped them in the basket. I was shocked. It had never occurred to me that a toddler would help with chores. That day this mom learned a lesson: kids will do what is expected if you follow through and make them do it!
There are 3 keys to getting your kids to do chores in your home:
Setting Expectations, Training, and Follow Through!
Maybe you’ve never made your kids do chores. Perhaps they do chores but it’s hit or miss. Start by telling the kids that you are going to implement a new chore system and everyone is going to participate, because this is how a family functions best.
Start with a family meeting. Determine daily personal tasks, which everyone will do for himself, and household chores, which will be done weekly and split up according to age appropriateness. Determine penalties for missed or improperly completed items. Every person in the home who can walk and talk participates.
Every child will have his personal chart. For little ones, paste pictures on a sheet of paper with a blank box beside each one for a sticker when the job is completed. For the older kids, use a simple spreadsheet. Personal chores should be completed by a certain time daily—say, before school, with only praise for a job well-done. Every child needs to be expected to learn self-care as it’s own reward.
Setting a weekly time for household chores, where everyone works together—say, for 1-2 hours on Saturday morning—is a great idea. Household chores should be part of “family life”, but may include an occasional movie night, or ice cream to celebrate a job well done.
If you choose to give an allowance, make sure it is tied into proper and timely completion of tasks.
If required tasks are done haphazardly, or if Mom needs to follow with a “re-do” they are not really ‘done’, are they?
Proper training looks like: “I do, We do, You do”. First I rinse the dishes and load the dishwasher in the proper way while Suzy watches. Then we do the chore together; I rinse and she loads–so we can talk, correct anything done improperly, and make sure the desired result is achieved. Lastly, Suzy rinses and loads by herself with Mom watching to insure the child has understood and is doing the chore correctly.
Proper training now is essential to sanity and proper completion later!
Once chores are assigned, and the children have been trained, it is time to implement the program by putting charts on the refrigerator and expecting follow through at the proper time. The first week is when a few reminders may be necessary and a few penalties incurred. Be an absolute stickler this first week, and after that, you’ll be amazed at how smoothly things begin to run!
Congratulations! Your chore plan is now underway! Here’s to a smoothly running household!