According to Julie Lythcott-Haims, author of “How to Raise an Adult,” having your child do chores is one of the best ways to help them succeed in life. When they understand that their contributions are a major factor in the happiness and overall harmony of the household, they become more fulfilled and happier people.
I’m seeing this firsthand with my 6-year-old daughter, Zoey.
Over the past year, Zoey has contributed her time and energy every Saturday morning to making our house clean and tidy. There was plenty of whining and pouting in the beginning, but now she understands that this is simply a part of her family responsibilities. Today, she takes pride in her work.
In a world of tablets, play dates and after-school activities, where do we even start? How can we get our child to want to help around the house?
Here are some proven ways to start a young child down the path of household contribution today and future success tomorrow.
Show Them the Way
Like most everything else in your child’s life, they learn when you show them how. Chores aren’t any different.
When you ask your child to wipe the counters clean, be there right alongside them. You don’t have to do the chore for them. Give them a good example, and then they can take over.
As your child is working on their chore, consider doing other helpful household tasks nearby. This way, they see these important activities are taken on by the whole family. If you’re flipping through Instagram while they’re mopping the floor, that may decrease their zest for chore day.
Inspect Their Work
When your child is done with their chore, review how it was completed. This brief yet important action will show them that you care about the time they just put in. Additionally, it’ll give you an opportunity to instruct them on ways to complete the task more efficiently in the future.
Provide Positive Reinforcement
According to a study by the National Council on Family Relations, supportive parenting methods are directly tied to the self-esteem of children. Given these findings, it’s important to thank your child for their contributions right after the chore is completed. This way, your child will know that their hard work is appreciated and that you’re proud of them.
Reward Your Child
To help your kid understand where money comes from, consider giving your child money for their work. This doesn’t have to be for all household responsibilities – just a select number of tasks where your kids go above and beyond each week.
For example, if your preteen is expected to clear the dishes after dinner as a part of their typical household responsibilities, perhaps you could add vacuuming the car as a weekly “money chore.” This way they start choosing to help the family out and make some cash, too. Win-win!
As your kid starts to grow older, this engrained lesson of earning money will help them get what they want out of life. They’ll know that they’re in control of their financial destiny.
Remind Them Why Their Contribution Is Important
Reinforcing the importance of family contribution to your kid will help them understand that this is the norm. This is how your family operates. Everyone pitches in to create the most harmonious family life possible.
Physically get down to your child’s level (or ask them to get down to yours if they’re taller than you), look them in the eye and tell them their hard work means a lot. They’ll then know that they’re an integral part of making your whole family happy.
Keep a Consistent Schedule
Consistency is key when you’re helping your child learn the importance of household chores. Set aside time to complete the predetermined tasks each week.
Think about your child, too. When are they at their best? Mornings? After school?
For our daughter, we chose Saturday mornings to complete her “money chores” (chores with pay). Throughout the week, she’s responsible for her “family chores” (chores without pay), like setting the table and clearing the dishes after meals.
Create Age-Appropriate Chores
For every stage of childhood beginning around age 3, there are age-appropriate chores that are manageable, rewarding and genuinely useful to the household.
Consider these “family chore” and “money chore” suggestions for various age groups.
Ages 3 – 5 (Family Chores)
- Putting dirty clothes in the hamper
- Making the bed (with help)
- Hanging up jackets and putting shoes in the closet
Ages 3 – 5 (Money Chores)
- Wiping counters
- Matching clean socks from the laundry
- Putting away silverware
Ages 6 – 10 (Family Chores)
- Getting dressed without help
- Making the bed every day
- Emptying small garbage receptacles from around the house
Ages 6 – 10 (Money Chores)
- Cleaning the bathroom
- Washing the car
Ages 11 – 13 (Family Chores)
- Taking garbage to the street weekly
- Putting away laundry
- Feeding pets and filling water bowls
Ages 11 – 13 (Money Chores)
- Helping with yardwork
- Raking leaves
- Shoveling snow
Ages 14 – 18 (Family Chores)
- Cleaning their own bedroom
- Doing their own laundry
- Cleaning their own bathroom
Ages 14 – 18 (Money Chores)
- Cutting the lawn
- Babysitting younger siblings
Build Life Skills Early
In the beginning, setting up a chore system for your child may be difficult. You may have trouble finding the time to be consistent, and your child will more than likely do a fair bit of complaining.
In life, the hardest things to do are quite often the most important. Know that your parental perseverance will pay dividends in your child’s life. You’re instilling lifelong values and reinforcing a positive self-esteem.
What are some ways you teach your children the value of doing chores at your house? Let us know in the comments below.
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