Summer is the perfect time to teach your kids responsibility by having them do chores. Along the way they will also pick up valuable life skills they can carry with them as they grow up. You may think your child is too young to do housework or that you would prefer them to “just be kids” instead of worrying about chores. All the same, you might be surprised at how much even your youngest child can do and what an impact a little responsibility can have on their life.
Before you start there are some things to think about. First of all, never treat chores like a punishment. You want your kids to take pride in even the smallest job they complete and to not view this work as a hardship to endure.
Here are some other tips to starting your child on the right foot when it comes to chores.
Assign based on abilities – Every member of the household has something to do. For your littlest kids, it may simply be putting away their own toys and putting dirty laundry in the hamper. A five year old might make their own bed, put away clean clothes and help you make their lunch. Older kids might help with laundry, do dishes, help cook or set the table.
Teach teamwork – Assign chores to everyone in the family and teach your kids how much easier it is to keep up with work around the house when everyone contributes. Also identify ways they might work together to finish a job even quicker. For example, one child might wash dishes while the other one dries and puts them away.
Try to make it fun – Let’s face it. Most of us spend a lot of time every day cleaning, cooking, doing laundry, maintaining vehicles and doing other types of household work. You will be doing your child a great service if you teach them to find ways to enjoy doing this kind of work. Make it a game, tell stories, listen to music, dance – do whatever you can to make the chore seem less like drudgery.
Create quality time – Refer to the point above. If your kids are young, they may need some adult supervision. But instead of making it feel like supervision, try to make it time well spent teaching your kids and having fun together. For example, a four year couldn’t do laundry by themselves. However, they do know their colors. Make a game out of sorting colors and whites together!
Relax your standards – Your daughter may not make her bed perfectly every time and your son may put away glasses with spots on them. That’s why you need to relax your standards a bit, accepting everything will not be done perfectly every time. Take the opportunity to teach them how to improve their skill and don’t get angry when it isn’t perfect.
Be specific – Break down a job into steps to make it easier for your child to understand and complete.
Create a routine – Kids respond well to a little structure in their day so create some kind of routine for them to follow. For example, they should make their bed when they get up or load the dishwasher right after dinner. Give them a daily chore and request that it be done at an assigned time every day.
Reward good performance – Tell your child when they do something good. Consider giving your kids an allowance for their work or create a chores chart that offers a reward for so many jobs well done. Children tend to respond well to praise and to rewards. They are just like the rest of us – they perform better when they feel appreciated. If they are earning money for their work, remember to teach them some good money habits along the way. Need inspiration? Read more on this topic here.
One more note, if your kids are cleaning, make sure they are not handling toxic cleaning products. Look for kid-friendly products that are safe for the skin and body.