Kids who do too little at home

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It’s never too early to start cultivating a sense of responsibility in your child.

Earlier this year, the Ministry of Education announced an initiative that would get students to participate in daily chores in their schools – with the ultimate aim of instilling a sense of responsibility towards their immediate environment. In a society where convenience is highly valued and having a live-in domestic helper is commonplace, chores for kids are definitely part of daily life.

Children are certainly at risk of missing out on the positive values and habits that come from doing their own chores. Self-discipline, independence, confidence and a sense of accountability are gradually built through the seemingly simple and menial housekeeping tasks.

Here are some ideas and strategies to help you get your children to do their chores.

1. Set age-appropriate chores for kids

Firstly, ask yourself what basic skills are important for your children 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.

More tips on making chores for kids fun and doable on the next page.

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