Summer holidays are on the horizon and your kids will find themselves with extra time on their hands.
If they’re not already doing chores this is the time to start. Depending on their age this may also be the time to engage them in some of the extra jobs such as painting the fence or cleaning all the windows.
How to Involve Kids in Household Chores
When my grandson was 17 months old he decided to help me out. He picked up a can of beans and looked at me. I asked him to bring it to the kitchen and with a minimum amount of direction he did so. We were both thrilled with this, his first actual chore.
We all know that it’s important that our kids do chores. But really, who needs the grief? Little ones, like my grandson, love to help but let’s face it, having them in the kitchen while we cook or the laundry room while we try to get all the laundry done can be more about having a child underfoot than having a true helper.
However, it’s important to have children help out around the house. It matters, but why?
Children need to know that they are needed as part of the family. In order to run a home, there are tasks that need to be done. Much as none of us may want to do the work, we also know that having accomplished something feels good.
For a toddler, that can be as simple as handing her parent the spoon she dropped or putting her arm through the sweater all by herself. The complexity of tasks grows as children grow and mature, but the feeling stays the same.
When we begin when our kids are young, by the time they figure out that housework is work and is to be avoided, it is already part of their routine. If we wait until they are 10, 12 or 16 it can be much more difficult to involve them in running the house.
So the trick is to involve them when they are little and increase the level of task as they age.
Many parents tell me that they allow their kids to help when they want to. And that is great, but there is more to this question of chores than just helping out when you feel like it. There needs to be a level of expectation. In other words, certain jobs need to be done whether you want to or not. Let’s face it, have you ever awakened on a beautiful morning, yawned, stretched and thought, “Whoopee, I get to clean the toilets today!”
So, once my grandson had the can of beans, I expected he would follow through with the task, which was to bring it to the kitchen. And, with a little guidance, he did just that.
But how do we accomplish this?
The first step is to re-consider our standards. The way a 4 four-year-old sets the table might now meet our criteria, but if he’s doing his best, be appreciative.
Time is a big issue. Letting your child dress herself simply takes more time than doing it for her. So schedule your time accordingly and let her finish the task on her own.
We also tend to think that a lot of jobs we ask of kids are so basic and simple that they will know how to do them automatically. So when we ask our 8-year-old to tidy the playroom we figure he knows what that means. But, he simply doesn’t. He hasn’t paid any attention when you tidy the room and his concept of what look good is very different from yours. So, walk him through the job. Let him know what you expect from him. If, when he announces he is done, you see that he hasn’t really accomplished much, go back to the job description and have him finish the task.
Work with him. It’s hard for kids to stay focused on chores so make it a joint project. You pick up all the Lego and put them away while he grabs all the toy cars.
A bonus of working with kids is that you are teaching them how you like to see the work done and you are setting up a habit of working together which, as he gets older, can lead to great conversations that might otherwise not happen.
Kids, who have a role in the running of the family, see themselves as useful, necessary and trusted. They learn problem solving (what is the best way to tackle this toy clean-up), decision-making (what shall I make the family for lunch today) and values (how do I want our home to look).
Involving the kids in family chores will help them to become more capable young adults. And while having them help when they are little can feel overwhelming, they become more competent and helpful as they get older.
Digital Books Make Parenting Information More Accessible.
Two of my parenting books started as print versions but the third is only digital. The first two are now also in digital format.
For busy parents, digital is often much more convenient. You can pull out your phone on transit, in a waiting room or while holding a sleeping baby.
When we are raising children we know that we need to give them roots and wings. Then we need to consider their particular and unique temperament.
Who’s in Charge Anyway? Talks about roots. It provides a clear road map for parent to focus on the tough but rewarding job of raising children to be responsible, self-disciplined adults.
But Nobody Told Me I’d Ever Have to Leave Home talks about raising children to become capable young men and women. And Vive la Differénce takes a look at different temperaments of children and what that means for child raising.
In the summer we think about reading great, fat beach books. But spending a little time also reading about parenting is not a bad idea.
How Can I Bring Kathy to My Community?
I offer keynotes and workshops, I’ve written books and have ongoing newspaper columns, books, blogs and newsletters.
And, no matter what the actual topic, they all share a basic value that I call:
P — is a parenting plan
U — is unconditional love
R — is respect for your child as he is right now
E — is encouragement
I look forward to working with you for your professional development, workplace wellness or parenting education event.