Life is busy for the average family. There are many things to get done everyday, never mind the extras. Driving to events, lessons, practices, play dates, PTA meetings, appointments, games, tournaments, competitions….. I could go on and on. Whether your children are small or older, life is just busy. Daily tasks, repairs, and chores just add up if they aren’t handled properly. I believe it needs to start early. Young children at the age of two or three can start helping out. The key is to be organized and focus on the effort , not the end result. Some children will actually do a job badly to get out of doing the chore again. Other’s will feel discouraged and defeated if their work is redone or criticized.
To teach a skill take these steps (some may have to be repeated more than once) :
- I’ll show you how to do it.
- We will do the task together.
- I’ll watch you do the task.
- You will do the task on your own.
Add visuals, check lists, and detail steps to help children succeed. Not all children will need this, but checklists and visuals help all of us remember.
For cleaning a bathroom you can write details down, so all the steps are done:
- Clear off the counter top
- Spray the cleaning solution on the tap, sink and counter
- Wipe the counter, sink and tap with a damp clean microfiber cloth (do not use hand towels or bath towels)
- Check for spots that will need some extra scrubbing.
- Put everything back on the counter where you found it. (unless it doesn’t belong there. Put items away where they belong)
I got really specific with this list, not all children need all these details. You know your child best, don’t assume they know the order of how to do a task. In my university years I did watch someone try to clean a bathroom with a piece of toilet paper and water.
Chores give children life skills. When their contributions into the household are acknowledged and needed it boosts their self-esteem. They want to do well, some just take longer to get there. The parent needs to make the expectation clear and offer praise for the effort. The more consistent the expectation the more likely it will become a habit. If you want your child to hang up their coat and make their bed everyday, then the expectation must be there. They can have a check list to keep track of what needs to be done and what has been done. Rewards can be added to help motivate the child and acknowledge the task. Once it becomes a habit then you can take the reward chart away.
You know your child best. Their age may not be a good indicator for what daily tasks and chores they can handle on their own. What age are they really functioning at? Think about the task and if they are able to do it. Do you expect them to clean a whole room, but it’s too overwhelming for them to get started? Do you have bins for certain toys, does everything have a place? This makes cleaning up much easier. Ask them what chore they would prefer to do. My son would rather wash a floor or clean a bathroom than tidy up the living room. Be patient, give it time and they will get there.
I have many charts and chore tokens to help you out with this process. Check out my shop.