How to get your kid to enjoy housework: 10 tips for parents
As parents, we are most probably aware of this fact: If we want our children to be self-disciplined and have an attitude of serving others, we must train them.
That’s true, you might say, but how do you begin training your child?
Well, believe it or not, doing housework is one way.
Which begs the next question: It's one thing to get your child to do housework, but how do you get your kid to actually enjoy housework?
I'm sharing with you 10 tips based on my own experience. Click "next" to start reading them!
1. Be an example.
Children usually learn best by following your example. Remember, actions speak louder than words, so if you want your child to enjoy doing housework, you need to show him or her that you enjoy doing it too!
For example, if you want your child to enjoy washing the dishes, show him that it's fun to do so by the way you wash the dishes — make a game out of it, sing silly songs while scrubbing the plates and glasses, etc. It will be even more fun if you do it together!
2) Train from birth.
Learning begins at birth (or even in the womb, as research shows). Kids will happily learn things — like doing chores — more easily if they're used to seeing us do them, even from the time when they are still very young.
When my daughter was still a baby, I’d prop her up in her infant seat and she’d watch me do everything. As I wielded my broom, I’d sing happy songs while sweeping the porch or dance around in the kitchen while preparing meals.
As she grew older, she eventually picked up the habit of doing chores happily, without much complaining!
3. Have a positive attitude towards housework.
As a parent, I know my attitude towards chores (and towards anything or anyone else for that matter) is passed on to my kids. It’s taken me some time, but I’ve come to appreciate the value of "menial" work.
Actually, no work can be too menial if we approach it with an attitude of thanksgiving.We must be grateful that we are able to do what we do, and teach our kids to do the same too!
4. Let them work.
Sometimes, we parents are the ones who get in the way of our kids doing housework. We coddle them, pamper them, overprotect them, and then we wonder why they find it so hard to learn something or are so resistant towards chores.
Maria Montessori, a well-known educator, says that all children learn through play/work.
This means that all children learn through active participation, by being involved in a practical way, and by attempting to do something themselves, especially by using their hands.
Children will make mistakes, but they will go on making mistakes considerably longer if we never give them the opportunity to attempt and perfect their skills.
So if we want our kids to enjoy housework, we must let them do housework... and maybe even make a mess while they do so! Let them learn from their "messes" and mistakes!
5. Don’t force it at the beginning.
All children learn at their own pace and in their own time.
Whenever any of our kids showed interest in folding the clothes, I would teach them. It was ok if they didn’t do it perfectly. The fun part was that they tried.
Occasionally, I ask my kids if they want to “help Mama” — e.g. wash the plates, hang the laundry, etc. Surprisingly, they accept my offers with gusto, almost every time.
The key here is not to force them, but to encourage them to "be a helper," and do "good deeds" by helping you do the chores!
6. Make the job doable.
If you want your kid to enjoy housework, you need to make sure that the chores to be done are not too "overwhelming" for him or her.
For example, if you want your child to help set the table, make sure that your cutlery, dishes and cups are within her reach. That way, she can set the table without any frustration or difficulty.
Always assign household chores based on your child's ability.
7. Build their self-confidence.
Every time my kids do a chore or help out, I praise them sincerely. Examples of phrases you can use are:
— “Good job.”
— “Thanks for getting your sister some water.”
— “Well done, sweetie.”
— “Oh, I couldn’t have done it better myself!”
Kids love positive affirmation, and will learn to be more confident about themselves and their abilities if we take the time to appreciate their efforts.
The result: They'll almost always say "yes" to helping you out!
8. Don’t get irritated with mistakes and repeats.
Children usually need to do things over and over again in order to "perfect" a task. Try to remember that learning is a process, so don't get annoyed when your kid makes a mistake while doing an assigned chore.
Whenever you start feeling irritated about your child not "getting it," try to take a deep breath. Count to 10. Remember that you, too, make mistakes, especially when you're learning something new.
If you have this kind of attitude when your kid is doing housework with you, you'll find that both of you will be able to breathe easier... and have more fun, too!
9. Talk to your child about what needs to be done.
Maria Montessori says that when children repeat their actions, they build up automatic patterns which eventually become fixed as mental images. These mental images then become represented by language.
That's why I always talk to our children as much as possible about what they’re doing, when they’re doing it.
— “Yes, keep your hand away from the edge of the hot pan.”
— “Squeeze the wet cloth harder before you wipe the table.”
— “You can get the butter from the dairy section of the refrigerator.”
And so on.
This way, not only do kids learn the task at hand, they build up a tremendous vocabulary.
So, if you are out to teach your child a certain chore, explain things as you go along. Talk to him or her about what you want to be done.
10. Put housework in perspective.
This tip applies especially to preschoolers. Sometimes, my little girl has trouble starting her chores. I try to show her the larger picture: “The sooner we finish cleaning up, the sooner we’ll get to read that book you wanted.”
After hearing this, she usually speeds up. Putting things into perspective has helped her develop a sense of time, and she has also learned to use time wisely.
I also tell my kids that, as a family, we’re a team. Teammates support one another. We help one another in everything — including housework!
Housework, like personal hygiene, is a necessary part of life.
We needn’t and shouldn’t have to give our children money to do housework. This blinds them to the intrinsic value of work, and of serving others.
By using creative ways to encourage our kids to work and to take pride in accomplishing a task, we are helping them gain a lifelong positive attitude towards work — something which will definitely benefit them in the future!