HG: Annie Payne Column March 14, 2009

Let go of perfectionism to teach kids about RESPONSIBILITIES

Easy ways to get your children working

•  Start early.  If they can dump out a box of toys, they are old enough to put them all back. 

•  Be mindful of the children’s ages and abilities when choosing appropriate chores.  They can probably handle more than you give them credit for. 

•  It’s not a good idea to hand household cleaners over to small children. Give them a dry, soft cloth or a feather duster and let them do the dusting. Energetic little legs are also great for fetching and putting things away.

•  Wet cleaning wipes are a great way to get the kids involved without worrying about them wasting or ingesting cleaner.

•  Spring is a great time to get the kids working in the yard. Even little hands can help with planting and weeding, but be sure to show them the difference between plants and weeds.  And, do you know what’s great about working in the yard? Brushing your hair is optional.

•  Generally, don’t pay children for doing chores.  It’s their house. It’s their mess. They can help clean it up. But, if the children are older and the job is more complex or time-consuming, many families use a chart with a list of the chores and a corresponding dollar amount to be paid for the completion of each task. The children are then able to pick and choose which ones they would like to do. 

•  Use a timer to keep the kids motivated. The young ones especially love to see if they can “beat the clock.”

•  Keep the judgments to a minimum. Kids will get easily discouraged if you nitpick how they do their chores.  There is room for training and improvement and, of course, they need to be instructed on the correct way to do things, but allow some room for them to feel good about what they have accomplished.

•  Never use chores as a punishment or you will create children who hate to clean their own house. 

•  When assigning new responsibilities, supervise the tasks the first few times to assure safety and quality control.  Remember, you want the kids to be an asset around the house, not a liability.


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