Monday, March 21, 2011

How can I get my child to do chores?

Getting a child to do chores is a struggle for a lot of families and generally gets worse in the teen years. Moms and Dads find themselves frustrated repeating themselves until they bribe and then yell to get it done. It is possible to raise children that don’t mind participating in the household duties, but it takes time.

If you can, start when your children are young, just old enough to do basic tasks like put away their toys. Lovingly and without pushing, include them in the clean-up. This is important in a lot of ways. It teaches your children that having respect for their belongings and will lead to habits that are positive. It is a way to turn household duties into bonding time. It can also give your children a good work ethic.

My two year old constantly says, “I help” when I am making meals, doing dishes, and cleaning up. I want to encourage the excitement she has for the work so I try my best to involve her in what I am doing. When she helps me with the dishes, she often makes more of a mess than I would like but I know that as she gets older she will get better at it. I don’t chastise her for making the mess. Making her feel bad for not doing the job the way I want her to will only push her away from wanting to be with me and help.

My mother loves to do the dishes and I believe that is in part because of the connection time she got with her mother growing up as they did dishes together. In a house full of children (7), it was a chance for her to really talk and share her feeling with her mom. This connection time led to enjoyment of the activity and has led to my mom’s lifelong LOVE of washing dishes. Ultimately that is why we want our children to do chores. Not to force them to do something they hate, but to have a love for keeping things at least somewhat clean and in order.

This same principle carries over to all “chores.” If you want the activity to be something your children do even after they leave your house, it needs to be something they enjoy. The best way to make that happen is to engage in the activity with them when they are young AND as they get older. Instead of making them take out the garbage, clean their room, sweep and vacuum, make it a family event. Do it with them, and make it a time you can connect with them.

On Thursday’s post I will finish answering the question. I will talk about how to encourage older children to do chores and will discuss allowances.

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