One of the ways households have changed in the last couple of decades is the steep decline in the expectation that children should do chores. Some parents feel that homework comes first over chores, and often children are so over-scheduled there is simply not enough time to do regular chores. Unfortunately, what we miss as parents, is that chores can be as crucial to your child’s future as their academic, sporting and artistic skills.
Chores are quick tasks that children can do, that help develops a strong work ethic, confidence and a sense of pride that they are contributing to the family duties. Chores help children learn about what they need to do to care for themselves, their home, and their family. They also learn valued skills they will use into their adult lives, like cooking meals, cleaning, organisation, responsibilities, and life skills. Chores also teach children the importance of time management, preparation and teamwork. By forgoing chores, we often undervalue what our children are capable of and when.
Should your Child be Rewarded for Doing Chores?
Chores do not need to be rewarded with money but, when dealing with our older children, this can teach them the real value of money and money management. First, create a reward chart and reward your child with TV time, a play date with friends/family or any interest your child has. For example, if they complete all their chores, they may get to choose the movie to watch on ‘family movie night’. Work out what the currency is for your child, and this will help motivate your child to complete their chores. Be sure to make each chore you give your child has clear, simple instructions, so there is no confusion. Showing them first how to complete chores is highly recommended. For younger children, give them one chore at a time to complete.
Chores for Children Aged Three to Five
- Brush their teeth (with supervision when younger)
- Brush their hair
- Get dressed
- Pick up their toys
- Wash their hands
- Put their dirty clothes in the hamper
- Bin paper scraps and put lids back on markers
- Place clean clothes away
- Pack their backpack.
- Set and clear the table with supervision
- Clear place at mealtime
- Feed the pets
- Bring in the mail
- Wash, dry and put away some dishes
- Help carry groceries
- Sort the laundry by colour
Chores for Children Aged Six to Seven
- Choose their outfits and get dressed
- Make their bed
- Tidy their bedroom
- Fold and put away their clothes
- Make a small snack
- Pack & Unpack their backpack
- Shower or bath themselves
- Empty the dishwasher
- Set the table
- Wipe down the table
- Help prepare food with supervision
- Water plants
- Change the toilet paper roll
- Sort the recycling
Chores for Children Aged Eight to Nine
- Make simple snacks
- Be responsible for personal hygiene
- Hang, fold and put away their laundry
- Be accountable for their belongings
- Clean their bedroom every day.
- Set an alarm clock and be responsible for wake-up time.
- Get ready for school independently.
- Strip sheets off the bed.
- Walk the pets
- Load the dishwasher
- Put the groceries away
- Peel vegetables and cook simple foods
- Do simple cleaning tasks
- Water plants & garden
- Wash the car with supervision
- Take out the garbage
- Help with younger siblings.
Extra Tips to Make Chores More Successful
If you are sick of nagging your children to do their chores, try these helpful hints:
If you wait until your kids are in school to assign them a list of tasks, they will be reluctant to engage in personal and family chores.
Give Specific Instructions
Young kids may not understand what you mean by “set the table”, so show them how to do it step by step until they can do it on their own. Give them one instruction at a time.eg. “put your Lego in this bucket.” Next, “put your shoes in the wardrobe”. Specific instructions will teach them all the tasks that need to be completed to tidy up their room.
Sing Their Praises
Offer plenty of praise while your children are performing their chores and afterwards. Tell them how much, they have helped you and the rest of the family.
Don’t Expect Perfection
If you’re teaching your seven-year-old to vacuum and mop the floors, don’t expect the job to be done perfectly. Supervise them at first, and then let them do it on their own when they are ready. You can spot-clean any missed areas after they are done.
Resist Doing Their Chores for Them
Children will learn very quickly that they don’t need to do them because mum and dad will just end up doing them anyway. Don’t let them out of their chores if they are tired, or are having a busy week. Teach them that everyone contributes and has a role to play in the family.
Avoid Niggling at Them to Complete Their Chores
Niggling will only create a battle around chores. Instead, calmly use the “when/then” strategy. Say, “When you’ve emptied the dishwasher, then you can go out and play”.
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