Parents, you might be spending a lot of time and money on perfecting your child’s academic skills but as we all know, academics is not everything. Children also need to develop soft skills like self-discipline, independence, and confidence.
These skills can be developed through various activities like sports, drama, and household chores. Yes, you heard that right parents. According to a study done by Dr. Marty Rossmann, professor emeritus at the University of Minnesota, and psychologist Richard Weissbourd from the Harvard Graduate School of Education children who do chores do better in school and are empathetic and caring.
But of course it is never easy getting kids to do anything menial and boring as housework, so here are some ideas and strategies to help you get your children to do their chores and enjoy doing them!
1. Set age-appropriate chores for kids
Firstly, ask yourself what basic skills are important for your kids to learn, and what are they realistically capable of doing?
When getting children to help with chores around the house, it’s critical to consider the age of the child. At first, very young children will need lots of direction and specific, step-by-step instructions on what to do. Adults may also need to be on-hand to supervise them. Although this approach will demand more time and attention, it’s much less frustrating than repeatedly yelling, “Clean up this room, or else!” Giving specific, step-by-step instructions, backed by consequences, will yield much better results.
With older children who can read and write, parents can write their daily chores on a small whiteboard or give them chore cards that spell out the specific actions they need to take in order to complete a task. Again, it’s important to be specific about the deadline for completing the task and the consequence if the task is left undone.
When using consequences with children, it’s most effective to balance both positive and negative reinforcements. If children are regularly punished for bad behaviour they can easily become discouraged. It’s just as important to reward them for their good behavior with verbal praise, a hug, and even an occasional small reward.
2. Motivate your child
For very young children such as toddlers and preschoolers, turn chore-time into a fun game to engage them. For example, have a ‘chore-race’ to see who can clear the most toys off the floor in the shortest time. Children also enjoy blending music and work. Compile a 20-30 minute playlist of yours’ and your child’s favourite songs and play these while your child completes their chores.
3. Create a point system.
While fun and games works great with younger kids, it might not be as effective for older children. So, parents, let’s take things up a notch and get into the spirit of competition by using a point system. This not only a fun way to instill responsibility and ownership but also prevents you from nagging or scolding your child when they don’t finish a task. Win-Win!
Each time your child completes a chore or task on his or her own, they are awarded points based on a pre-set system; the more important or complex the task, the more points are earned. To make things more interesting, you may also consider giving ‘bonus points’ for kind or generous acts. But also let your child know that points can also be deducted for misbehaviour or failure to perform expected chores. At the end of a pre-determined time period (such as one month), the child with the most points wins.
4. Trade chores.
If your child repeatedly refuses to do their chores despite positive encouragement and reinforcement, parents should consider meting out a ‘consequence’ instead. If parents repeatedly ask a child to do a chore, and end up having to do the task themselves, they should then ask the child to swap chores and carry out a different chore that the parent had planned to do themselves.
For example, if a child forgets to put away the dishes, the parent can do it for them, and ask them to fold and put away the clean laundry instead, which will likely take more time and effort – with this approach, children are apt to become more aware of their responsibilities at home.
While household chores might not be the most exciting thing to do, we hope these tips help you make them more exciting and worth your child’s time.