Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Step 2: How to get your kid's to do chores.

2. Make an age appropriate list for each child.

I am here to tell you we severely underestimate our children!  Even a three year old is capable of a chore list and learning to pick up.  So take the time to identify the everyday chores vs. the chores that are extra and the children would be able to either earn an extra privilege or small amount of money for completing.

Here is an age appropriate list for each child's age group:

Ages 2 and 3
Many toddlers are eager to help with chores, and while their “helping” may not always be appreciated, keeping their excitement and the habit of helping out alive, should be. Sticker charts are a great way to keep toddlers excited about helping. Their chores may have to be completed with you helping every step of the way, but you are laying the groundwork for children that find chores and helping a way of life.

Some chores 2-3 year olds can do…

  • Help make the bed.
  • Pick up toys and books.
  • Take laundry to the laundry room.
  • Help feed pets.
  • Help wipe up messes.
  • Dust with socks on their hands.
  • Mop in areas with help.

Ages 4 and 5
Preschoolers still find helping to be an exciting venture and usually are thrilled when time is taken to teach them new chores. They are ready to do some chores without constant supervision. Rewards at this age are very motivating. A sticker chart that allows you to build up to bigger rewards can be appropriate. For some preschoolers, tying chores to an allowance is a great option and fosters independence in choosing a reward.

Some chores preschoolers can do in addition to the ones above…
  • Clear and set the table.
  • Dust
  • Help out in cooking and preparing food.
  • Carrying and putting away groceries.
 Ages 6-8
These school age kids may or may not still have their childlike enthusiasm for completing chores. What they do have, however, is an overwhelming desire to be independent. Parents and caregivers can guide children to become independent in their chores, using chore charts to keep track of their responsibilities both completed and pending.

Some chores that they are capable of in addition to the ones above…
  • Take care of pets.
  • Vacuum and mop.
  • Take out trash.
  • Fold and put away laundry.
Ages 9-12
Children in this preteen age are capable of increasing responsibility where chores are concerned. Keep in mind that many children this age rely on continuity. Find a system that works for your family and do not change it without the input and support of the people it directly affects. Make sure that you factor in rewards and consequences and address those issues with your children. Let them know the consequences of not completing chores, as well as the rewards for fulfilling their responsibilities.

Some Chores preteens are capable of in addition to the ones above…

  • Help wash the car.
  • Learn to wash dishes.
  • Help prepare simple meals.        
  • Clean the bathroom.
  • Rake leaves.
    • Operate the washer and dryer. 

Ages 13-17
Teenagers are developmentally ready to handle almost any chore in the home. At the same time a teenager’s schedule can sometimes become quite hectic, leaving little time for chores. Make sure that the workload of your teenagers is manageable.

Some chores teenagers are capable of in addition to the ones above…

  • Replace light bulbs and vacuum cleaner bags.
  • All parts of the laundry.
  • Wash windows.
  • Clean out refrigerator and other kitchen appliances.
  • Prepare meals.
  • Prepare grocery lists.

Remember that children mature at their own pace and not all kids will be capable of advanced chores at the same age, just as some children may be ready for more difficult chores at a younger age. The most important guidelines are supervision and evaluation of your child’s needs and abilities. That's right, you MUST supervise as they learn or they will not be inclined to do the work.  Step 3 is next.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

The highly anticiapted: "How to get your kids to do Chores" series. Step One: Mom loses the excuses.

Excuse 1: "They don't do the chores the way I like it done."

  • Teaching children how to work is not an easy process.  It takes time,energy, and a abundance of patience on the parent's behalf. That being said, the benefits far outweigh the time you spend teaching them these skills.
  • Discard the perfectionist attitude, roll up your sleeves and teach your child how you expect things to be cleaned up. 
  • One time instructions won't do it: The average habit is formed in twenty-one days. As adults we rarely catch on to a new job or concept with just one explanation. Give your child a bit of a learning period before expecting perfection and even then, their "age appropriate perfection" may not be the same as yours and that is okay. More importantly you are teaching them to work which in time will make your job as a parent much easier.
Excuse 2:"I have to scream and yell to get them to do their chores and I get tired of fighting with them."

  • Have a family meeting or caucus and set down rules and guidelines. Involve your kids in the process.
  • Let them decide what the consequences are if they do not do their chores (you will be surprised what they will come up with).  Always, always follow through with the consequences or your chore system will never work. The consequences need to be specific and involve everyday things they enjoy doing in their spare time.
  • Have a heart to heart and tell them how it makes you as a parent(s) feel when you live in a home full of clutter and chaos. You can bet none of them will say they like the house being a mess either. And if they do, they don't actually mean it (teenagers included). Explain to them the positive benefits of a clean and orderly home.If everyone helps a little there will be more time to do fun things.  Remember organizing is freeing not restrictive!
  • Consistency is KEY and it is your job as the parent to keep up your end of the process. Sure, you will have off days, but as long as you are consistent more days out of the week then not, they will learn to make it a priority and know what is expected of them.
Excuse 3: "We don't have the time to do chores"
  • If you are so busy you cannot require your kids to do 10 to 20 minutes of chores a day you need to seriously re-evaluate the activities that are taking up your child's day. It's not healthy for them to be away from home all the time everyday.
Excuse 4: "  I can't get my act together so why should I expect my children to get it together?" 

" Don't make excuses and Don't talk about it. Do it." -Benjamin Franklin
    • If you wait until you think you have it together you will waste all the tomorrows with this excuse. You will not only be teaching your children a negative habit, you and they will continue to spiral down even further by them watching you not deal with it. And you can be sure a chunk of my clients are those who grew up in chaos and were never taught how to manage and run a home.
    • START SMALL!  Pick a corner of a room or just one kitchen cabinet and work on keeping that clean and organized.  Do the same with your kids. Start with a very achievable goal like having them consistently putting their dirty clothes in the hamper. Or putting folding clothes away in there drawers and closets, and then move on to something else. 
    • Remember! Don't abandon what is working; just add to it by organizing more things bit by bit.
    • If you feel stuck, the investment in hiring a professional organizer will likely save you thousands of  dollars and restore or bring sanity to your home. You can also check out a book at the library or have a trusted friend or family member help you in the process. There is even ehow-to videos on the Internet from mopping the floor to scrubbing the bathtub.
    Remember consistency is KING! The time you spent TEACHING your children how to not just work but to work well with expectations will benefit everyone in the long run and your home will be a more peaceful and happy place.

    Comments, suggestions? Yes please! Share your tried and true tips with our subscribers!

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