Summer vacation may be in full swing, but that doesn’t mean your child should get a break from household chores.
“Chores not only help children becoming self-sufficient adults, they also teach them how to be accountable, how to be part of a team and to understand that the family does not exist for their benefit only,” said Georgette Constantinou, PhD, administrative director for pediatric psychiatry and psychology at Akron Children’s Hospital.
Involving kids in routine household chores should begin as soon as they’re old enough to understand basic tasks, such as having your preschooler put his dirty clothes in the hamper.
Many chores can be great learning opportunities, as your child counts items as they go into a laundry basket or sorts them by color. They can also help kids develop hand-eye coordination, learn how to solve problems, build self-esteem, organize sequences, and understand how parts make up the whole.
Motivating kids to do chores
While chores are good for kids, it’s not always easy to get them to do them. There’s often a battle as they drag their feet in protest or try to get out of doing them altogether.
But as frustrating and tiring as these struggles can be, resist the temptation to do them yourself. Instead, follow these 10 tips to keep your child motivated:
- Match tasks to your child’s age, abilities and temperament. If your child is easily distracted, give him jobs that can be broken into steps and done with breaks. If your child learns visually, a list of tasks can help. A good rule of thumb is to avoid doing things for your children they can do by themselves.
- Be reasonable. When assigning a new duty, show your child how it should be done, but keep expectations realistic, especially for younger kids. If you’re a perfectionist when it comes to certain tasks, Georgette advises you to perform those yourself.
- Offer choices. When possible, let your child choose which chores to complete.
- Set clear expectations. Establish what must be done, who will do it and when it should be done, as well as consequences for not completing it.
- Make consequences logical. If toys are left out after playtime, stow them away for a specified period of time. Or, if the family room is not vacuumed, then no TV or devices tonight.
- Mix it up. To avoid job burn-out, rotate or alternate tasks. Create a grab bag with various chores and let kids take turns choosing. For creative ideas, check out BuzzFeed’s “17 Impressively Clever Ways to Get Kids to Do Their Chores.”
- Keep it positive. Your outlook will help your children develop an upbeat attitude toward domestic duties.
- Turn on music. Keep the mood lively and sing or dance together while you work.
- Make it a game. Set a timer for a specific task and play “beat the clock.” For preschoolers, many common chores can easily become a counting, matching or sorting game.
- Celebrate a job well done. After chores are completed, enjoy a special treat or family activity.
By the time a teenager knows how to drive, there really should be no household task that she’s not capable of performing.