Never Too Young for Chores

Written by on August 17, 2012 in Family - No comments | Print this page

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I am a very firm believer in teaching kids responsibility and the importance of helping out around the house.  This is not something that you have to start instilling in your children when they are old enough to polish silver or wash the dishes, it can start as early as when your children are babies.  Teaching children how to participate in household chores and the importance of contributing to family jobs is extremely significant and so here are some ideas on how you can attempt this regardless of your child’s age.

Teach babies to put things away and encourage “mock chores”.  Whether it’s putting blocks away in a bin or helping them pretend to wipe a table while saying, “thank you so much for your help,” and encouraging them, these simple and fun tasks will start the ball rolling.

Match the task to their age:  If you want your child to stay focused and have some sort of drive to get the task at hand done you have to make sure that they are able to perform the duty.  You can’t hand a three year old a knife and say, “make dinner,” and you also can’t point them toward the laundry room and say, “fold those clothes.” However, you can ask them to get certain ingredients out of the cupboard, pull the clothes out of the dryer etc. 

Involve them in the process:  Even adults will perform better if they have some sort of control over the design and completion of a project. Rather than asking your child to set the table per your specifications, you can ask them to set the table but let them know that they get to chose where each person sits, or what colour napkins each person gets etc. 

Keep it simple:  Start small. Don’t put up a giant chore chart on the fridge that’s as long as the list of things you need to do by Christmas. Start with one or two simple chores.  Too many “to-dos” will leave your child feeling overwhelmed and overworked.  They will feel defeated before they even start.  Start small, and grow this list as your child grows.

Chore charts can be super fun:  Kids love anything that involves stickers, stamps, decorations etc. So make this a fun project. Get some craft paper and let them decorate their own chart that you will hang up to show what they need to do each day. Not only will they enjoy making the chart but it will again add to their “ownership” of the chores they are responsible for.

Don’t be overly critical: Let’s face it they are not going to make their bed perfectly or fold the laundry quite as well as you would, but that’s okay.  If they complete the task, thank them and show them how proud you are of their accomplishments.  Try to resist the urge to remake the bed as soon as they leave the room because they will notice and they will make a mental note that the job they did was not good enough. It doesn’t have to be perfect, it just has to get done!

Whether its helping walk the dog, feeding the cat, stacking firewood, or simply cleaning up a bin of toys, it is extremely important to give you child some sort of task that they can take ownership of and that you can praise them for taking care of.  This will set the foundation of not only their work ethic but also their confidence and pride in themselves.

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About the Author

Jenessa Blanchet

I am a working mother of two, with a passion for writing and lending a literary helping hand to fellow parents and family enthusiasts. Born and raised on the west coast, I have a love of the outdoors; sailing, beaching and all things wonderful including constantly trying to keep a handle on family life. View all posts on Family Life.