Last week’s blog was about why children need to do chores. But how do you know what chores to give which child? The choice will depend on what needs to be done in your household and what they are physically and developmentally capable of.
Give children some chores that teach them to be responsible for themselves and some that contribute to the family as a whole.
Adjust them for their age and ability.
- Eighteen- month-olds can pick up toys and hand them to you to throw into the toy box—and then get a hug.
- Four-year-olds can dust, and be rewarded with applause. Little ones will actually enjoy chores and be happy with your admiration as their reward, although you might have to fix their work later. Mine helped me paint a wall once…
- By eight or ten, they should be independent enough to leave them alone with a small chore. They can take out the trash, vacuum, or unload the dishwasher, which should be followed by a thank you and a hug. They will feel less inspired, so don’t forget the reward! Hugs rule.
- Preteens live in constant fear of embarrassment, and chores need to be adjusted accordingly. They like to know, in detail, what is expected of them, when it is expected, and exactly how you want things done. They never want to do something wrong and be ridiculed. Coolness rules. I have had preteens tell me they didn’t know what “poop” was and had no idea how to stick out their tongue and say “ahh.” They fear doing it wrong. Be patient and explain things exactly. Use the preteen years to teach skills they will need later. They are able enough to learn basic cooking, laundry, and housekeeping skills, but they are still young enough that they don’t yet have the overwhelming schedules of teenagers.
- For any age, add no more than one new chore at a time so they won’t feel overwhelmed.
Chores are an invaluable parenting tool. Without them, your children will not be whole and balanced, and they might be less appealing. Chores allow your children to participate in the family and help it function. They teach your children to be responsible for themselves and manage their time. Work teaches them appreciation for what others do for them—and for the things they have. Accomplishments nurture pride in self and in their abilities. Chores teach skills they will need throughout their lives.
Your progeny should, of course, be adequately rewarded for their work by the joy of being able to contribute to the family and by the skills they have learned. This does not seem to be the case.