Doing chores is an important part of growing up, according to researchers. Doing everyday jobs promotes community and a sense of well-being. But, we are asking our kids to do less and less to help. Sometimes, we just do a chore ourselves, because it is easier. Or, because our kids are so busy with outside activities and school work, we hesitate to ask them to pitch in. Remember, the Connected Families framework? A parent’s job after showing their kids they are safe and loved is to raise capable children who will grow into responsible adults. Kids’ chores are an important part of family life. Here are some ideas for getting your kids involved around home.
Any aged kid can do chores.
We’ve seen two-year-olds taught to do chores. In fact – here’s a picture of our former housemate’s son Eli at age two years and two months, posing for a picture of the table he set by himself.
How did it work?
First, he was invited to help a little bit here and there on numerous occasions prior to this event. The invitations were less about working and more about joining the fun, because we always made the work fun.
An important next step:
Then we showed him how to do it, and then helped him do it the first time. Of course, this took time and some patience. But, when he accomplished the task, we made a big deal out of it (thus the picture). The next time, he went on to set the table exactly as shown, all by himself.
The Icing on the Cake:
We gave exuberant affirmation, “Wow, Eli! You’re doing one of the things God built you to do! Do you feel good about that?”
“Yah!” He said with a smile.
“Give me five!” We said, and slapped hands with a big smile.
He then cleared the dishes the same way. This chore became a frequent part of Eli’s routine at dinner time. With much less hooplah he often helped set the table and clear the dishes. He also cleaned up toys, and clothes, having learned the same way. This approach works with most chores, and with kids of all ages.
A Recap on Kids’ Chores. Break this easy approach into six steps:
1. Be an example of fun while working.
2. Make an invitation to join the chore.
3. Give a realistic, concrete demonstration of what you want done.
4. Celebrate by giving enthusiastic praise for the hard work, not for the “good job.”
5. Teach the child that helping others is something God built us to do: We are God’s workmanship, created to do good works (Eph 2:10).
6. Stay relaxed and make it enjoyable.
Repeat with any chore you wish your child to do.
Talk about it:
There are many ideas out there for making chores a winning experience!
Chore charts can work great for some families, and can be a source of power struggles for others. It’s parents job to be discerning, and enlist their kids’ input to solve their chore challenges as a family, not as a top-down mandate. We found a couple of links for chore charts here, here, and here.
We’d love to hear your ideas for teaching your kids to be part of the daily tasks around the house. We love sharing ideas!
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