Friday, September 11, 2009

Household Chores

I know at my house there are always more than enough chores for everyone to share! There are certainly many reasons to involve even young children in everyday jobs. They will learn new skills and feel a sense of accomplishment and of course you can get more done by having that extra set of hands. It is a fact that children who have regularly assigned household chores feel a sense of self-worth and competency. They also tend to demonstrate responsibility in other aspects of their lives. These children often demonstrate a higher level of self-esteem and see themselves as an important part of the family.

Children as young as age two can help with jobs like putting toys away or hanging clothes on hooks. When teaching a young child a task, it is important to use materials of an appropriate size and items that are easy to reach. This might mean using open shelves instead of pull out drawers for storage.

Preschoolers love to imitate their parents and often “help” with chores like vacuuming or dusting. Parents should encourage these efforts by focusing on the process and not the finished job. None of us did a perfect job the first time we swept a floor and neither will your preschooler. Demonstrate and praise their efforts as they master a task. This will help to develop children who want to help and feel their work is important to the family.

When demonstrating how to do a task, keep the lesson simple with few words. You will need to work alongside the child for at least the first few times. As their skills increase, you can advance them from the simplest of tasks to those that are more complex. As children get older you may want to post the chores that need to be done and let them volunteer for the ones they would like to do. Of course there will always be those few necessary tasks that no one wants to do. It is important to communicate the necessity of following through on their commitment to complete these tasks. Consequences for not following through need to be reasonable and you must be willing to carry them out.

It often feels like it would be so much easier just to pick up the toys yourself than to spend the time teaching and coaching, but don’t lose sight of the bigger picture. Learning to take responsibility for housekeeping chores is an important skill parents must teach their children. The reward will be a more helpful child today who will grow into a responsible and capable adult tomorrow.

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