Audrey and Ethan are quickly becoming good little helpers around the house. Audrey has started each of the past few weekends by cleaning her room. We regularly do basic clean-up of our toys (of course while singing the clean-up song,” Clean-up, clean-up, everybody, everywhere. Clean-up…” However, at 4 years old, she has moved beyond the basic toy pick up and started really picking up her room, making her bed, and even helping out by cleaning her little brother’s room, just because she is a “good little helper.” She often helps me with laundry by separating dirty clothes by colors, folding towels and washcloths, and matching socks. Ethan, at 2 years, has been bit by the helper bug more often lately as well. He is the best person to throw away trash! He helps me load silver ware into the dishwasher, unloads some of the dishes, wipes down the tables, uses the hand held vacuum, loads and unloads the washer and dryer. At times I really struggle with finding patience when the kids want to be so helpful, right under my feet but then I think of all of the families that I interview at ages 8, 10, 12 years of age who report that they don’t have any chores. I feel chores are very important for kids of all ages.
1.) It gives the child a sense of belonging in the family. We know that when we are a valued team member then we feel obligated to that team.
2.) It teaches them responsibility. Throughout life we have chores. I remind parents all of the time that the moment your children learn how to take care of themselves should not be the moment they graduate high school and move out on their own. It is less shocking if it is a gradual learning curve.
3.) It teaches them about actions and consequences. If they do not complete chores then they lose privileges. If children do not learn this at home, then where do we expect them to learn it?
4.) It gives them a chance to gain self-confidence and pride in their accomplishments. When they complete their tasks and you praise them, it makes them more likely to complete the tasks in the future; they want to earn positive reinforcement more often.
5.) With that part being said, do NOT go back over the work that they do. If they genuinely attempt to complete the task, then be thankful for the work that they did. It is ok if it is not done EXACTLY the way you would do it. If you go over their work then why should they be motivated to complete tasks in the future?
Speaking of chores… I hear the laundry calling. What chores do your little ones complete and how have you motivated them to complete them?