Getting Your Kids to Help with the Chores

  • Do you hear a lot of "why do I have to do everything"? You might want to create a chore chart for mom and dad, showing all of the things that children are so fond of taking for granted. It may not make the child feel better, but it will probably help you not to cave in to some false sense of guilt. If you find that the child really is doing a lot (for example: when parents or siblings are ill or disabled) you might want to discuss the reasons and see if there is any way to take some of the pressure off. You want the child to grow up responsible, not resentful. It might also be useful to talk to the parents of the other children when your child comes home and announces "no one else has to help with dishes every night." It helps to know the facts. Most children believe they are overworked if they are expected to do so much as make their own beds-or they want you to believe it. Take a step back and look for reality.
  • When asking for help remember to ask politely. Explain that you are willing to do your share of the housework, but that everyone in the family needs to help. Explain that you would be a more relaxed person and easier to live with if everyone would simply select a few chores and do their share. Have a list of the chores that you'd be interested in sharing so they can choose some chores right away. Post a schedule of chores for everyone -- including your own -- as a reminder. Try not to nag. Please!
  • Believe it when you tell your child that this is a skill that will be needed later in life.
  • Whether it's organizing a desk, dusting a shelf, or sorting laundry -- if they don't learn it from you they will have to learn it the hard way. (My roommate in college learned about sorting clothes after all of our whites turned pink in the wash with her brand new towels -- we wished her mother had taken the time to teach her earlier.) When you say "you'll thank me for this later," believe it! Attitude counts. Keep yours as positive as possible.
  • Offer rewards for completing chores. Don't forget to reward yourself when you've done a good job. A small snack, a warm hug, a sincere "thanks" or some time alone (or alone with someone special) are all good rewards for small things. A new "toy," a trip to someplace fun (like the park or the zoo for the kiddies or a nice restaurant for older kids), or some time off are good rewards for bigger accomplishments.
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