Kids & Chores
When a kitten pounces on a ball of yarn, it is learning vital hunting skills crucial for its survival. A puppy chasing its own tail is not doing so for our amusement. Rather, the little critter is developing spatial awareness and motor skills that it may need to protect itself. Although these animals do not have chores around the house their seemingly playful acts are purposeful and the learning process begins early in life.
Accordingly, it is good practice to encourage helpfulness early among one’s human youngsters. Toddlers as young as two years old can acquire skills that will carry throughout adulthood. Kids with regular chores see these duties as just a part of life, and that everyone in the house is a valued contributor.
The youngest kids tend to find helping fun. They want to join in; it is much like playing. Youngsters enjoy mimicking adults, they like to copy mommy and daddy. Don’t dismiss their abilities and capabilities. Toddlers can throw trash away, pick up toys and wipe down surfaces. They can also water plants indoors and outside and help care for pets. Give them every opportunity to pitch in and deliver lots of praise.
The goal here is not to push for a big contribution at this age, the focus should be that helping is normal, expected and can be fun. Two, three and four-year-old children are developing fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination. They are also learning how to work with others to complete tasks.
Kids & Digital Screen Time
Create a healthier family with closer bonds by spending time together connecting and communicating, and less time glued to digital screens.
Ditch the TV, computer and cell phones on weekday mornings. When children start school, have them pack their own lunch. Pick out healthy food choices together and allow your kids to shop with you. They can also make their beds and remove dishes from the table. If the bed isn’t perfectly made before school, don’t sweat it. You are looking for effort. Praise them for willingness and getting things done on time. This will boost their confidence and possibly, make them want to continue to improve.
Older Children & Household Chores
Older kids can take on added responsibility. It is not necessary to micromanage them, but simply important to keep the lines of communication open in case they need help. From age 10 and up, most kids are becoming more self-reliant and they also develop problem-solving skills.
Once you are parenting teenagers, having chores is no longer a contribution, it is a part of life. If they grew up helping around the house, and the expectations are reasonable, allow teens to participate in some of the decision-making. Continue to dish out lots of encouraging words and praise.
Teenagers can be incredibly helpful, they can run errands, watch younger siblings, prepare meals, mow the lawn, clean the litter box and so much more. You might be surprised at how willing they are to help when treated with respect. Another option for teens is to earn money at a weekend or part-time job. They can contribute to the family budget and learn valuable skills about managing money. It is up to you whether you want to put the money away for the teen’s future or use it for household needs.
No Gender-Specific Tasks
Avoid sticking with traditional gender roles when it comes to doing work. I remember my mother saying she used to get criticized for having my brother wash dishes. Her response was, “why not? He eats most of the food.” This was decades ago, but the premise still holds true. Boys need to learn how to cook, clean and contribute to a household, and girls should learn how to unclog a sink, shovel snow or paint a finished basement.
Keep in mind, the earlier you start household chores, the better and make the work fun. As kids grow and mature keep their contribution in line with their stages of development. Chores should never be used as disciplinary action and never forget the praise. Personally, I don’t believe in giving an allowance for doing what you’re supposed to do, but other parents see this differently. Consistent praise for good effort and a job well done goes a long way. The hope is always that kids will be cooperative, helpful and responsible citizens at home and in the community.