Hilary Anderson, Child and Family Support Center
I recently had the opportunity to visit with a close relative. During the visit, this mother proceeded to direct her four-year-old daughter to put away her toys. This innocent child, who up until this point had a permanent grin adhered to her face, crumpled to the floor in agony, face contorted in a look of despair. Every excuse in the book flooded out of her lips. “I’m too tired.” “My arms hurt.” “I’m too busy.” “I CAN’T!”
Let’s face it, we have all been in this situation. So how do we avoid the ongoing battle associated with chores? Take heart, there are ways to make chores a bit, well, less of a chore for everyone.
Create a routine: Plan to do chores around the same time each day. Whether it is before dinner, when they get home from school, or before bed, consistency is key.
Don’t expect perfection: A child making their bed is not going to look as good as you making their bed, and that is okay. Don’t jump in and do it for them, or re-do the task. This undermines the whole purpose.
Go easy on the reminders: You want chores to be done without micromanaging. Keep reminders to a minimum and choose your words wisely (“We’ll be eating dinner in 10 minutes. You can join us when your toys are put away.”)
Keep it fun: Make chore time a positive experience. When needed, use charts and visuals to motivate. For our technology savvy teens, there are apps that track and assign chores. Avoid frustrations by using age appropriate chores from the following list:
2-3 Year Olds:
Put away toys
Put clothes in hamper
Wipe up spills
4-5 Year Olds:
Make their bed
Clear the table
Use hand-held vacuum
6-7 Year Olds:
8-9 Year Olds:
Put away own laundry
Walk a pet
10 and Older:
Clean bathrooms & kitchen
Cook simple meals with supervision
What about the ongoing allowance debate? Most experts suggest when it comes to chores children should not be given an allowance. Yes, children need to learn about money management, but not by doing chores they are supposed to do anyway.
Parenting expert, Jim Fay, co-founder of Love and Logic, says we all need to feel needed and to know we’re making a contribution-even kids. “But they can’t feel that way if they don’t have chores and make contributions to the family.” Let’s work to take the battle away and begin to have more successful, happy and “war-zone free” homes.