Teach Them While They’re Young
I am always going to promote teaching kids how to do chores as young as possible! I mean, how can you go wrong? It
instills responsibility, a keen eye, and a heart of service. However, I do have one concern that I wish to elaborate on before jumping into the particulars of family chores. Be careful that chores do not become the sole result of punishment. What I mean is this: don’t let your child only participate in household tasks when he or she is in trouble. This could cause everyday chores to only be connected to punishment; thus, he or she may have a warped approach to household tasks in the future and become less and less inclined to clean independently.
Now, obviously, this cannot be completely avoided. Even when my oldest has a poor day at school and the state of his behavior chart does not earn him screen time or toys, then I may say, “Could you please help Mommy with some things around the house before dinner?” I don’t think there is anything wrong with giving a child work to do when the child has not earned any privileges; however, be wary of that distinction between punishments and responsibilities. After all, some chores may be grueling and/or boring, but there is a certain satisfaction in getting the job done and encouraging order.
My quick tips for involving kids in chores:
- Play music while you work—there is such an amazing array of streaming music out there (try a classical station or Disney).
- Use a timer—my oldest has made an Olympic sport out of stalling for time, and sometimes I’ll need to break out the timer and I’ll tell him, “you have five minutes to pick up your toys as fast as the Flash, ready, set, go!” (Bringing your child’s favorite superhero into the situation always merits bonus points.)
- Have a treat ready—honestly, I do this for myself! (“After I do these dishes, I’ll sit down for a cup of tea.”) If you feel like your little one has earned it, have chocolate milk on hand (or your preferred form of treat).
- Assign a chore to your child that he or she can repeat again and again. Practice does make perfect, so choose something that you know that he or she will excel at. For example, I know my oldest loves puzzles and patterns, so he’s in charge of sorting laundry—especially matching up socks!
- Be patient and expect imperfection. This is obvious! Focus on praise and gratitude for those little helping hands, while gently correcting any mishaps.
- Involve the babies! As soon as my little ones are walking, they are invited to participate. Even my twenty-month-old son is given a dry rag when I am dusting so he can imitate me. We also have a toddler Dyson vacuum that was on sale a few years back, and if I am vacuuming in the evening, I’ll take it out and inevitably, my son will grab it and follow me around.
- Make a chore chart—Pinterest has some cute ideas so that a child can visually realize what is done and what needs to be done.
Sample Chore Commitments
My children chore commitments (please, adapt this to your own preference—these are just ideas to get you started!):
We hope this post sparks your interest and would love to hear about some of the chore practices in your own household.