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Posted by: thepinetree on 05/23/2010 11:17 PM Updated by: Kim_Hamilton on 05/24/2010 08:55 AM
Expires: 01/01/2015 12:00 AM
:

The Kid Connection..."Your kids: Helping around the house! "~by Stefanie Pechan

Yes, it’s possible! Getting your kids to help around the house doesn’t have to be a constant battle. A few simple strategies will persuade even the most reluctant child to help out with housework. Younger Children: Children who can walk are old enough to do simple tasks such as putting toys away or placing books in a book basket or on a bookshelf. Stay by your child while they help and show them the correct way to put things away. This will pay off in the long run when you ask them to do this in the future (since they will know how it should be done). They crave success, so instead of giving them an entire room to clean, start with a smaller area. Being specific helps. Instead of saying “clean up your toy area”, you can say “put your trains back on the train table”. ....


Preschoolers are ready for more challenging tasks such as setting the table, sorting socks, or even folding dish towels. With my own little ones, I try to make it into a game. They like race games, so if I want them to get their pajamas on, for example, I’ll say “Race cars, start your engines! (the boys make their engine sounds) Ready…set… go!”. The boys race to see who can get their pajamas on first. I’ll also play that game when it is time to clean up. I assign a specific task to each child so that it doesn’t get too overwhelming. I’ll say something like “Matt I would like you to clean up the blocks. Zach, I would like you to put the books back in the book basket. Ready…set….go!” They usually respond pretty well to this.

Older Children: Older children tend to balk more when it comes to chores. Ever hear the phrase “I’ll do it later!”? The reason may make more sense than you realize. Think about it; the satisfaction of getting the laundry folded is not a very big reward in this day and age of video games and instant gratification. We are in the age of NOW. You can go online and find information faster than reading it in a book. Kids these days have grown up with this and expect it. Some tips that might help: First off, try not to use the word chore. With my older nieces and nephews, I put a spin on it as being a great helper. Lots of praise also helps. “Wow! You’re such a great helper! I am so lucky to have your help. You’re doing a fantastic job!”, etc. Older children can help with just about anything such as dusting, sweeping, mopping, vacuuming….the list goes on.

With any task you give them, just be sure to be specific so you set them up for success. Nothing will discourage them more than seeing you redo something they’ve done. Helping out around the house teaches them to be responsible for something and to follow through. It provides opportunities to grow and learn skills they will use later on in life.

The key is to make it light and positive—keep it fun and simple. Put on fun music and dance while you dust! The sillier, the more fun!

Below are more tips for older kiddos:
6 Ways to Get Your Kids to Do Their Chores (Without Going Crazy)
(source: empoweringparents.com)
1)
Stop the Show: I believe that parents really have to learn how to stop the show. What does this mean? If your child is not doing his chores, you simply stop everything, tell him to have a seat and talk to him about it. Ask him what he thinks is going on and what's getting in his way of doing his assigned tasks. Find out what his plans are after he’s finished and try to motivate him toward getting the work done so he move onto what he really wants to do. Appealing to a child’s self-interests—rather than explaining the abstract concept of responsibility or duty—is generally much more effective for kids.


2)
Time Your Child’s Performance: Timing is a good way to get your child to comply with doing chores. You can say, “All right, the dishes have to be done in 20 minutes.” If they're not done in 20 minutes, then your child’s bedtime is earlier. Now there’s a cost associated with his foot-dragging. The beauty of this system is that you're not constantly nagging anymore, you're just keeping time. The next night, you can say, “Let's not repeat what happened last night—because remember, you didn't enjoy going to bed earlier.”

Another timing strategy parents can use is a technique where you motivate kids to compete with themselves. You can say, “Let's see if you can get it done in 15 minutes tonight. But remember, you have to do it right. I'm going to check.” You can even give them an incentive: “If you get it done within 15 minutes, you can stay up 15 minutes later. Or you can stay online 15 minutes more.” So then it becomes more exciting and stimulating for the child. And while your child won’t lose anything if he or she doesn’t get it done, they’ll gain something if they do. That kind of reward system is always preferable to one in which the kid loses something, because it’s more motivational and less punitive—you’re giving your child an incentive to do better.


3)
Consider Giving Kids an Allowance: I think if parents are financially able to give kids an allowance, they should do it. Your child’s allowance should also be hooked into their chores—and to the times when your child fails to complete his tasks or has to be reminded to do them. So for example, if your child has to be told more than once to do his chore, he would lose a certain part of his allowance—let’s say a dollar. And each time you remind him, he loses another dollar. It is also appropriate to give that part of his allowance to a sibling who does the chore instead. This way, you're not working on the chore, you're working on the communications process, as well as your child’s motivation.


4)
Use Structure: Structure is very important when it comes to completing household tasks. I believe there should be a time to do chores in the evening or in the morning. Personally, I think that evenings are best during the school year, because doing chores in the morning just adds to the stress and intensity of the schedule. Summertime is easier in some ways because you’re not contending with homework. So in the summer, chores should be done first, before anything else gets done. For example, before the video games or any electronics go on, make it a rule that your child’s bed has to be made, his clothes should be in the hamper and his room is tidy. This way, he’s starting to learn that before he can have free time, his responsibilities have to be met. Again, you never want to be pulling your child back from something exciting in order to do something mundane and boring. Rather, you want to get them to work through the mundane and boring things to get to something exciting.



Sometimes as a parent you have to ask yourself, if my child isn’t doing his chores, what is he doing? You really have to be aware of how your child is using his time. If he’s not doing his chores because he’s playing on the computer or reading a comic book, you've got to stop that pattern. The choice shouldn't be “excitement or chore.” The choice should be “boredom or chore.” What I mean is that kids have to understand that they can't go listen to music in their rooms or just hang out until their chores are finished.



I also think it’s a good idea to set aside time during the day when all the kids in your family are doing their chores at once. So your 15 year old might be unloading the dishwasher while your 11 year old is taking out the garbage. That way, no one feels as if they’re missing out or being punished by having to complete their tasks. It’s just chore time.


5)
Don’t Turn Chores into Punishment: I tell parents not to use chores as punishment. If somebody misbehaves and does something wrong, don't give them a consequence of doing the dishes, for example. The only time that's appropriate is if your child does something wrong to another sibling. And so in order to make amends—in order to right the wrong—they do that person's chore for them. That's a physical way of saying, “I was wrong to do that and I'm doing your chore to show you that I'm sincere.” That’s the only time when I advocate that parents use chores as something more than an assigned task.


6)
Use a Reward System: It’s pretty simple: If you want kids to take responsibility for their chores, integrate their tasks with some reward system that has to do with allowance, as we mentioned, or in some other observable way. I recommend that parents have a chart on the refrigerator with each child’s name on it, with their chores listed next to their names. If they make their bed promptly and do it right, they get a check. When they get five checks, they get some reward. Maybe it's staying up an hour later. Maybe it's having more computer time one night. In my opinion, the computer, video games and television don’t have to be on every waking hour. Just because the computer is there doesn’t mean the child has to be using it—especially if your kids argue about it. Each child should get an hour of computer time, and then computer time is over. If they want more than that hour, they should have to earn it. This allows you to use computer time, TV time, and video game time as a reward. Of course, this doesn’t apply to schoolwork or projects that they have to do on the computer.



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