Your Child & Chores
by: Michael Kabel
There's always a lot to do around the house, and the truth is that running a household takes the energies of the whole family. While it's often hard to preserve some kind of order around the house, a clean home is a source of pride and comfort not just to parents but often for the children, as well.
Once your child reaches the age of six or seven, they're probably old enough to begin taking on some basic responsibilities around the house. While these necessarily shouldn't involve heavy physical exertion or giant time commitments, getting them to perform simple, routine tasks around the house is an important part of getting them ready for the "real world."
All jobs great and small are important.
Children often feel resentment if the work they're given to perform doesn't seem important. Taking out the trash, making beds and sweeping carports, and similar taks are all more or less thankless, entry-level work. This can cause resentment, as the child (rightly) feels they're given the "scutt work" that's beneath the parents' attention.
Participate in such jobs with your children, at least as they first start performing them. Make them understand that all tasks play a part in creating a clean and organized home, especially the chores that help prevent illness (taking out trash, cleaning, et al.) After a while, you can let them know they're trusted with performing the work themselves.
Use positive reinforcement to reward accomplished tasks.
Children soak up praise like flowers need water, so complimenting them on a job well done both strengthens their self-esteem and helps motivate them to complete the task just as efficiently the next time it's required.
However, don't praise one time and then make little of the chore the next. That will only work to confuse the child about your approval as well as the importance of the chore. So, don't make a big deal with complimenting their efforts. Just compliment them and move on.
Set a consistent list of chores to accomplish.
Changing the list of chores each week will also confuse the child and foster resentment, as they'll feel at a loss to understand what's expected of them. And to be honest, constantly shifting their responsibilities is actually not fair.
Keep a steady, concrete list of chores and tasks for them to perform, both daily (such as feeding pets or making their beds) or weekly (sweeping the garage, watering the plants). Don't append more on them, and certainly don't ask them to pick up your slack.
Reward with praise, not money.
Don't pay your children to do particular chores: that just leads them to work just enough to get what they want, and robs them of other motivations. If you want to set an allowance for them, base it on the entirety of their work.
Let your children know that their efforts have benefited the whole family. The money is a show of appreciation for that, not a direct payout. As they grow older, you can add additional chores while increasing the amount of the allowance, repeating the steps shown here to further build their self-esteem and sense of meeting responsibilities.