Getting children to do their chores does not make you a bad person.
When it comes to assigning children family chores, virtually all parents think it's a great idea. But many also find it can be a big hassle to get them to actually do the assigned work.
Yes, it may sometimes seem easier to just take out that bag of trash yourself than to get into a big argument with the children over whose turn it is, or why that simple job can't be done now. But what the experts advise is not to let such household responsibilities slide.
Having your children do assigned chores can be an important factor in helping them develop in positive ways. Chores are a way for children to feel part of the family, and to gain a sense of contributing toward the family good. These early life lessons make it easier for a person to feel like an active, contributing member of society later in life.
Chores are also a means for learning about responsibility and meeting expectations, skills necessary for success in school and the workplace. They may involve simple activities, like making a bed daily or helping with the family pet, but the lessons derived from successfully completing family chores carry over into later life.
Getting chores completed successfully, however, does require planning and work on the part of parents.
- Make assignments that are appropriate for a child’s age and abilities so successful completion and positive experiences are most likely.
- Keep your expectations reasonable. If you are a perfectionist and criticize how every chore is done, you're setting your child up for failure, unable to meet your expectations.
- Set realistic, attainable goals. Don't let children get away with little or no effort since that is teaching them to have their own low expectations and to question their abilities to do good work.
- Talk to your children about setting up a chore system. Clearly explain responsibilities and what constitutes successful completion of a task.
- Show them how to do the chore along with you, step-by-step, several times before expecting them to work on their own.
- Develop rewards for work well done. Ask your children what rewards would motivate them.
- Take the time to monitor chore activities and to offer honest praise for carrying out assigned tasks successfully.
- Evaluate the chore system periodically, rotate chores among children, reteach the proper sequence of work and model the level of effort.
Here are some interesting articles from The New York Times, "Happy Children Do Chores", another one about providing motivation for children beyond rewards and punishments and one about not yelling.
Adapted from American Counseling Association’s Counseling Corner Blog.