SOUCHERAY: The ROI of household choresGetting kids to do chores at home often seems like more of a chore for parents.
Getting kids to do chores at home often seems like more of a chore for parents. Parents reason that it’s quicker and easier just do the chore themselves. So often, we ask our kids to do something and they either argue with us or fight with each other, they do a lesser job than we needed them to do, or they simply don’t do it. All of which means we are still involved in the process more than we intended to be.
So how do we get our kids to do chores? And are there really benefits to all that fuss of getting our kids to help out the way we want them to?
Research from the University of Minnesota shows that children who are regularly required to do chores at home are more well-adjusted as adults. This research shows that when children are held to the expectation of helping with simple chores when they are younger, they are more able and willing to participate in larger, more complex chores as they grow older.
Parents often ask what chores are appropriate for their children. They also want to know what age is appropriate to accompany these chores. There is an excellent website that lists appropriate chores for children from as young as nine months to those who are 17 years old which is www.homeschool-your-boys.com/age-appropriate-chore-list.html.
The lists for each age are comprehensive and recommend chores for the children’s rooms, the house in general, the yard and when you are away from home. The lists are simple and demonstrate how and when a parent would explain and enlist each chore.
For children as young as twenty-four months, helping to make their bed by handing you the pillow or helping to dust or collect garbage is largely the extent of the difficulty of their chores. It is more important that the children help to tidy up their own environment, rather than watching you do it for them, that is the key at this age. Their participation, even at this elementary level, holds the greatest meaning, not their level of competence.
Another suggestion is that when children are playing with toys on the floor, be sure to build in clean up time. When they are done playing with blocks, provide the container and have them put the blocks in it. You could put in a CD and sing along with a favorite song. You could also help your child count to ten or do the ABC’s with each block placed in the container. Adding in clean up time will help the child get in the habit of doing so throughout his or her life.
As children move out of the high chair and to a place at the table, have them carry something to the sink as their part in helping clean up after the meal. It does not have to be big to be significant. Just the act of helping like the rest of the family engages the child in the family expectation that chores are everyone’s responsibility.
Helping to carry in groceries from the car holds a similar expectation. Have the younger children help by carrying in a small bag, perhaps not apples, so they are involved in the process of helping when the family needs it. Perhaps when they are home from college they will hop off the couch and come to the car to help carry in the groceries without having to be asked!
According to this list from the website, by the time a young person has reached the ages of thirteen to seventeen, they should be able to bake cookies on their own and clean up the kitchen, mow the lawn, help with washing windows, make a grocery list and help prepare meals. Whew!
As your child helps with simple chores such as these, be sure to thank and praise them for their help and for doing a good job. When we use praise, we want to be specific, not general, for our children know that the comment “You’re a good girl,” does not have as much meaning as, “You put those toys away so nicely. Thank you for your help.”
When teens help out with chores, working alongside them and taking time to have a meaningful conversation is time well spent. When you are engaged in chores with your teen-ager, be present. Turn off your phone and turn on some music from the oldies – you know, music from when you were a teenager yourself!
Helping our children to learn the importance and meaning of chores will yield many rewards, both at the time and well into the future. So check out the website provided above and start making that Chore Chart. Everyone benefits when everyone is involved.
Soucheray is a Woodbury resident.