For the first year or two of your child’s life, you run the show. You’re the cook, the housekeeper, the launderer, and the gardener. But gradually, as time passes and your kids grow older, they can learn to take on some chores of their own. Assigning chores to your kids gives them a sense of responsibility and ownership – this is their house, too! Every chore your child learns puts him on a path to self-reliance. Plus, children enjoy feeling needed, as if their contributions make a difference. When kids help to tidy up at daycare or preschool, the pride in their accomplishments shows.
Have you been meaning to get serious about assigning regular chores, but just haven’t had the chance? Start fresh by holding family meeting. Get the whole family together to discuss the fact that in every household, tasks must be divided between family members, and everyone must pitch in. Including your children in this conversation will make them more invested in the idea of family chores.
Next, make a list of daily chores and weekly chores. Post this list on the fridge, and show your child which chores are assigned to him or her. Show them that when each chore is completed, a checkmark will be placed next to that chore. To really get younger kids excited, replace that check with a star for a job exceedingly well done.
Make sure to make age appropriate delegations. Before the age of 2, most kids aren’t able to participate fully in family chores, but you can begin an 18 month old to help you “put away” his toys after dinner each night, to show him that helping can be fun and collaborative. This will also create a habit that you can continue for years to come. Between the ages of 2 and 3, kids can learn to do basic tasks such as learning to dress themselves with assistance, make their beds, also with assistance, and simple jobs like wiping up spills, sweeping small areas, pulling weeds, and dusting. Between ages 4 and 5, kids can help in the kitchen by stirring, drying dishes, and rinsing vegetables and fruit. They set the table and clear dishes from the table, and help to load the dishwasher. Get them watering plants, and even washing the car for a messy day in the driveway. After age 6, you can entrust them to take basic care of pets, such as feeding and cleaning cages. They can help to cook the occasional simple meal in the kitchen, weed and water the lawn, and take out the trash. Children at this age can even begin to vacuum, sweep the house, and mop the floors! Every parents favorite!
Of course, make sure to show your gratitude for chores completed well and in a timely manner. Saying thank you when a child completes an assigned chore, or even when your child just pitches in without being asked, can go a long way toward motivating your kids in the future.
Have you established a chore routine in your home? Tell us your tactics, and how they went over with your children in the comments section.