When I was growing up, my brother and I didn't do much in the way of chores. My parents wanted us to focus on other things — namely academics — and they pretty much gave us a free ride on the jobs that needed to be done around the house. As we got older, it became painfully clear that our lack of participation in household duties had left us ill-prepared for the responsibilities that come with growing up. I look back on my youth with a profound sense of regret.
Now that I'm a parent, I want my kids to have a different experience, especially since chores have many benefits that can carry over into adulthood. Chores help kids to gain confidence in their abilities, while also learning the importance of responsibility. Chores give kids the chance to develop spatial and motor coordination, as well as teaching cooperation and diligence. Finally, chores make kids feel invested in their homes while teaching them to be less self-absorbed and impulsive.
So we have our kids make their own lunch or do the dishes, and even mow the lawn. It's important to employ some common sense and know what they can accomplish while always putting safety first. Once they develop a routine and get better at it, kids can often become great helpers, easing the burden of daily life on Mom and Dad. What parent wouldn't appreciate that?
Here are some helpful tips on how to get it done.
1. Start Early
When they're young, kids are often eager to help out, and good habits started early will stay with them as they get older. Most simple chores like setting and clearing the table, cleaning their rooms, and picking up their clothes can begin as early at 3-4 years of age.
2. Establish Rules
Set guidelines for what jobs the kids need to do and how and when they should do them. Being gentle, but firm is a good way to establish good work habits and responsibilities.
3. Make It Simple
Don't throw your kids into complicated tasks from the get-go. Simple and easy chores will gradually ease them into the idea of working while not making it painful or discouraging.
4. Work Together
Doing chores together can make it more fun for everyone. It also gives them a better sense of accomplishment and lets them know that they are actually helping out while working toward the greater good.
5. Give Them Praise
Kids respond to positive feedback from their parents, so make them feel good about what they're doing by telling them they've done a good job and making them feel proud of what they're doing.
6. Be Tactful
Remember that when things don't go as planned, be gentle with advice or feedback, and don't discourage their participation by making them feel bad.
7. Welcome Their Input
Kids will feel more invested in a job if they know that their opinions matter, so talk to them and use their feedback as a guide.
8. Show Your Appreciation
A thank you goes a long way with kids, even if it's for a job that they are supposed to do. This applies to Moms and Dads, as well.
9. Let Them Make Mistakes
In the beginning, when kids are still learning, things will inevitably go wrong. Mistakes, however, are an important part of learning and help to build resiliency when dealing with bigger issues later in life.
10. Be Consistent
Watching your child struggle to learn something makes the urge to intervene almost unbearable, but it is important to consistently stay the course and let them do it themselves.