Managing a household with an infant and a 7 year old during the school holidays [while our Helper is on leave for 10 days] is ALL the motivation I need to re-evaluate my little man’s chores and responsibilities at home. Growing up, chores were non-negotiables for us – dishes needed to be washed and the stoep needed to be polished daily. Full-stop! Now that I’m a parent, it’s my turn to inflict the “punishment” on my kids.
We all want our children to grow up to be successful adults, but sometimes, we fall into the trap of being Enablers. We’re soft, we’re over-protective, we’re trying to be their friends and we don’t want to upset them… if we let our children get away with so much during childhood, is it fair to expect them to be sensible teenagers or adults? It starts with the little things, children need [age-appropriate] boundaries, structure and the R-word that I still hate as an adulthood – Responsibility!
Why your children need to do chores and what they learn:
Chores contribute to emotional, academic and professional success in the future: children with a sense of accountability and self-reliance perform better in many other aspects of their life, later on, because they understand the fundamentals of work ethic and responsibility.
The dynamics of family relationships: children need to realise that everyone in the family has a role to play. Mom and dad are able to provide because they actually work. And when children ‘work’, they do their part to help the family function better. It’s a great opportunity to show them that things don’t juuust happen.
Not to feel entitled: instant gratification is their thing. They want – they get right? We didn’t grow up like this, so why are we raising spoilt children?! Chores won’t harm your child.
To learn the values of helpfulness and kindness: when they learn these values at a early age, they grow up to be compassionate and empathetic adults; this also helps them to establish strong relationships with others in the future.
Introducing children to chores:
Choose age-appropriate chores and start with a reasonable handful at a time
Start them young – two is a good age. They can pack up toys for example
Don’t use chores to “punish” children [even though it felt like punishment when you were a child]
Acknowledge and praise their efforts when they try hard / take initiate / complete them
Vary the tasks: mix between chores that benefit them and chores that benefit the whole family. Get them involved in helping with pets and other areas of the house too, as this helps them to learn to take care of others too.
Some ideas to get you going:
My son’s school gave us a wonderful guideline for the holidays. They can only have screen time after they have:
- Made up their bed
- Cleaned up e.g. bath/change, brushed hair and teeth
- Completed their chores or helped around the house
- Read a book for 20 minutes
- Played outside and
- Completed an activity e.g. building blocks/puzzle/crossword
KNOW that it won’t be easy at first. They’ll scream, sulk and bribe you to try and get out of it but keep the end goal in mind!
I would love to hear how you’re managing chores in your household. Which chores are your children doing at home?
Modern Zulu Mom