By Ashley Petersen
IICAPS Mental Health Counselor at CCGC
I think we all can agree that being asked to do chores was one of the worst parts of being a kid. I know I would have rather been out playing, talking with friends or watching TV…. but yes, they needed to be done. I was not the best at completing my chores, but having to do them provided me with important skills that all adults need. Parents want their kids to be as successful in life as possible. Are they going to be successful if you do everything for them? Most likely not, but you can teach kids how to start taking care of themselves at any age by doing chores.
Implementing a chore chart in your household has many benefits. Research done by the Center of Parenting Education has found that “children who do have a set of chores have higher self-esteem, are more responsible, and are better able to deal with frustration and delay gratification, all of which contribute to greater success in school”.
There are 5 steps to setting up chores and helping your child become more responsible:
Step 1: Role Modeling
As a parent, you are your child’s biggest role model. The way that you complete chores shows your children a model for how things are done, and how adults feel about doing them. If kids see adults having a positive attitude about getting things done around the house, there is a good chance they are going to want to help as they grow up. Young children pick up on everything; you may think that they are not watching or listening, but they are! Everything that you say or do will impact what they decide to do as they get older.
Step 2: Deciding on Chores
It is important to have your kid complete age appropriate chores. What does that mean? That you ask your children to complete chores that they physically have the ability to do, while also respecting those abilities and giving them tasks that make sense for their maturity level. For instance, you wouldn’t ask a 7 year old to load the dishwasher or a 14 year old to pick up toys. Instead, assign children chores that they can competently complete with minimal supervision, in a reasonable amount of time. After all, you want to make sure that they still have time to be a kid and have fun!( To see some ideas about what kinds of chores might be age appropriate in your household, check out this list from Focusonfamily.com!)
Step 3: Motivation!
Motivation to complete any task is needed at any age. As adults we are motivated to get our work done at our jobs because we enjoy getting our paychecks. Kids are just as easy to motivate. Extra time to watch the TV or play on their tablet/video game, having a friend over, picking out dinner for a night or an allowance can all be very motivating for a child. Ask your child what they want to earn. This way you know that you have their buy in. You can also ask them what they want to do for chores. Children are more likely to cooperate with what you are asking of them if they get to add their input, or make any kind of choice along the way. Make sure when it comes to their rewards that are used for motivation that it is something that you can follow through with (which we will further address in step 5.)
Step 4: The Chart
A visual chore chart helps children to remember what they are supposed to do. There are many types of charts and what kind you use will depend on the age of the kid. Those who are on the older side and don’t have any trouble reading, a check list similar to this will work for them.
You may consider doing something like this for kids who are little and still developing their reading skills.
Whichever chart you decide on, I suggest that you laminate it. This way the chart is harder to destroy and you can save paper. After laminating a chart, you can write on it with dry erase markers making it re-usable every week. The most important thing to remember is to make it functional for you and your family.
Step 5: Following Through
In order to keep them motivated and completing chores, you need to follow through with giving them their reward. Having a visual chore chart helps children keep track of what needs to be done, but it can also help you to follow through on providing the promised rewards! And remember: if they did all their chores for the day or week and don’t get their reward, it’s going to be tougher for them to be motivated to complete them the following day or week.
It is important to remember that every child and family is different. Even in one household, you cannot always compare one child to another. Every child has different needs and as a family you may need them to complete different chores. It’s okay to ask other parents for advice and what works for them. Just remember that you are going to need to change it to fit what your family needs.
Changing a routine and adding something as involved as the chore charts pictured here isn’t always easy, and there will most certainly be setbacks, off-weeks, and a few pitfalls along the way. But don’t give up! Remember that there are many benefits to giving your children responsibilities of their own and that the more they learn to help out, the happier, more successful,( and cleaner!) your house will be in the long run!