When it comes to giving our kids chores, most parents think it is a great idea and it makes us a great parent, but…
Many parents never follow through with their requests for their children to do chores due to the hassle they want to avoid?
It can be easier to simply to the job yourself instead of arguing or nagging your child to get their chores done. It can sometimes be easier to do it yourself so you know it is done now and done correctly. We also are aware that the experts tell us it is an essential part of a child’s development, to learn how to do household tasks and not let household chores slide.
Chores are an important way to enable the child to develop skills they will need in adult life. It allows the child to feel like a contributing part of their family, and it aids them in being an active community member as they mature. Household chores teach a child responsibility, how to meet expectations and skills they will need to become an independent member of society.
Research conducted in 2009 by Wellesley College in Massachusetts on Children’s Autonomy and Responsibility: An Analysis of Child Rearing Advice, reported:
‘Lack of household chores make children less responsible; Parents who don’t give their children chores at home may be slowing their development.’
When children contribute to their family life, it assists them to feel responsible. Even if they may not enjoy the chore, when they finish, they get the feeling of satisfaction, a skill mastered. Sharing household tasks also help families work better and reduce family stress and conflict. When children participate, chores get done sooner, and parents have more free time for the family to spend doing fun things together.
Some age relevant chores for kids they can do on a rotating basis. We never want them to be a home slave but rotate these tasks throughout the weeks.
Preschoolers (3-5 years) (2-year-olds can pack away toys)
• Pick up toys and books
• Put dirty clothes into laundry basket
• Set placemats, condiments, cutlery, plates and cups on dinner table
• Place used items into rubbish bin
• Help with buttering bread and mixing ingredients
• Help sort clean clothes and fold before placing into their drawer
• Help put away groceries
• Wipe or dust furniture
Primary school-age children (6-11 years) + previously learnt chores
• Tidy room and place items away correctly
• Water the garden and indoor plants
• Feed the pets and collect faeces
• Wipe down bathroom sink, kitchen bench tops, mop floor
• Take out rubbish
• Help hang out clothes, fold washing and put away own clothes
• Wash up and/or put away crockery and cutlery
• Help with grocery shopping
• Vacuum and sweep floors
• Help wash car they are driven around in
High school-age children (12 years and older) + previously learnt chores
• Tidy and clean room and change linen on bed
• Help plan and cook meals and grocery shopping
• Cook a family meal once a week
• Wash clothes, hang and fold when dry
• Clean and disinfect bathroom, toilet and shower
• Mow lawn (14 years and older), rake and dispose of cuttings
• Wash car, learn necessary car maintenance (oil, tyre pressure, water)
• Take more responsibility around the house
Starting a child off early in life to participate and accept chores will help them build self-esteem and develop stronger life skills. For younger children, only use a few step directives, clearly explaining the outcome and expectation you have.
As an example. Instructing a child to ‘tidy their room’ is a very broad statement and one you understand but something a child may not. If, however, we instruct a young child to please pick up your clothes and place into the dirty clothes basket, then pick up all your books and place onto the book shelf, this is easy for them to understand. Help them and make it fun or even a time challenge. Once they acquire this skill, move onto pack up your toys into the toy basket, so you know where they are next time you want to play with them. Encourage them to look and feel how arranged and tidy their room is, this should allow the child to feel pride. Give them praise, take a photo of them in their tidy room to share with family and grandparents. Kids love the rewards it brings feeling empowered and proud of a job well done.
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Older children, of course, should be able to do more complex jobs. If you haven’t provided them with the learning skills as yet do not expect the older child to be able to master a new task immediately, they need to learn. Imagine giving a 30-year-old a set of car keys and saying to them to drive up the road to buy some mild. Imagine if this 30-year-old had never driven a car before, never learnt the skill even though they have been a passenger since birth. They can’t drive, they need to learn, to be shown how. Same applies to your kids; learning is necessary to develop most all skills well.
Do not be a perfectionist and criticise how every chore is done. This can set your child up for failure being unable to meet your expectations. Instead, set realistic and attainable goals. This is always followed by praise for a job well done. We all need to be recognised for our efforts.
How do parents get their children to start chores or household tasks?
• It requires some planning from both parents. It is imperative these chores are appropriate for the child’s age and abilities, so their completion of the task brings a feeling of pride or a job well done for the child
• Clearly explain the task you require your child to undertake, the responsibilities of that chore and what constitutes successful completion
• Parents need to keep their expectations reasonable. If the child struggles with a task, it means they are yet to achieve their potential. Therefore practice is needed. A great way to have them complete the task until they become good at it
• Never expect perfection. A child, whatever age, starting to learn a task will not do it perfectly. Everyone needs time to learn and acquire the skill set of a job to be well done
• Don’t let your child get away with little or no effort. Assist them to complete the job and ensure they understand this will remain their chore until they are proficient at completing it
• Set up a chore roster, include the children with this roster that can change every couple of months, so all children develop all skills needed.
Chores can involve simple skills, like picking up toys, making a bed daily or helping with the family pet. Kids can set the table, pack or unpack the dishwasher or wash up, vacuum the floor, sweep the kitchen or veranda, dust the furniture; such a variety of jobs and many that can be done from a young age. Skills learnt from successfully completing family chores do carry over into later life.
Obtain your Free Chores Help Guide, to help set up your chores schedule.