Running a household is no simple task with several chores to carry out and complete through the day. One might think that children are not the ideal candidates to help with these routine activities around the house. And, instead of assigning children these household chores and constantly monitoring them to ensure that the tasks are complete, it would perhaps be much easier to do things yourself. You would perhaps deliberate adding this additional task to everything else you are already dealing with. It’s perfectly acceptable to think this way.
However, we must understand that it is important to involve our children in chores around the house from an early age in their formative years. Engaging them even in small tasks around the house can give them confidence and a sense of purpose. It also prepares them to become responsible adults who find fulfilment in whatever they do. So, do not hesitate to delegate household responsibilities to your children.
Assigning age-appropriate chores
Parents must remember to assign chores that are age-appropriate. Toddlers and children who are in elementary school may be unable to perform tasks that involve longer concentration and more strength. We must explain the nature and specifics of the task in detail, guide them step by step and most importantly not expect perfection. Most often, younger children might have to repeat the chore multiple times to get it right.
Here is a list of some age-appropriate chores.
You might think children this young are not ready for chores, but you can involve them in simple ones. Engaging them early on is good as chores will seamlessly become a part of their routine. You can ask them to:
● Pick up their toys and books and put them back where they belong
● Pick up their plates, cups and spoons after a meal
● Mop up a small spill
● Put away clothes where they belong
You can intensify the tasks as the children grow older. You can offer some of these responsibilities:
● Set and help clear the dinner table
● Water the plants around the house
● Wash plastic vessels
● Make their beds
● Help take care of the family pet
● Carry small bags when out shopping
Once children are accustomed to school and are comfortable with their routine, you can start entrusting them with more responsibilities. You can assign the following tasks apart from the ones they are already familiar with:
● Clean their room
● Put away their school related items such as their school bag, shoes and books when they come back from school
● Sweep the floor and help keep the house neat
● Help pack up their lunch
● Sort and put away the laundry
● Make simple food like a sandwich
● Take the dog out for a walk
● Take out the garbage
● Segregate groceries and help put them away
Tweens are at the cusp of their teenage years and are ready to take on more serious responsibilities. Here are some of the additional chores you can assign to them:
● Help prepare food that requires cutting or cooking under adult supervision
● Go to the neighbourhood grocery store to pick up some simple grocery items
● Babysit their younger siblings
● Operate the washing machine
● Do the dishes
● Clean the kitchen
● Take up dusting around the house
● Help clean the vehicles used by the family like cars, bikes and their own cycles
Once your children are teenagers, the chores need to be planned to help them live as independent adults. Here are some chores you can allocate to them:
● Clean the house in its entirety
● Iron clothes
● Make big purchases from the grocery store
● Help with the cooking
● Handle money and budgeting
● Pay utility bills
● Buy their own clothes
● Cook a meal for the family once in a way
● Be responsible for the upkeep of the garden
● Do simple maintenance work around the house like changing light bulbs etc.
Motivating your children to do the chores
Carrying out routine chores is not always fun. As parents we need to constantly motivate and encourage our children to ensure that they undertake and complete all the chores assigned to them. Here is what you need to do to keep your children motivated enough to do chores:
Rewarding your children motivates them to complete tasks assigned to them. You can consider giving them an allowance depending on how they accomplish their chores. If the chores are done without much prompting, you can pay them the entire allowance. However, rewards need not necessarily be monetary all the time. You can increase their TV time or time at the computer. Or you could give them small treats like buying them an ice cream or a small toy for a job well done. This way your children will have something to work towards and the chores will get done.
Competition between siblings
You can turn a particular chore into a casual competition between siblings, establishing clear rules to undertake and complete the task. For example, while the children clean their room, you can time them and reward the child who did a faster or better job and did not need much prompting to complete the task. Some healthy competition can make the chore more interesting and not too mundane.
Children need to be constantly encouraged. As parents, we must keep in mind that regardless of the size or nature of the chore children perform, we must praise their efforts. Let them know how much you appreciate their help around the house and don’t forget to thank them too.
Make it fun
You can assign your children chores that they like or prefer doing. Role-play is also an effective way to make chores more interesting. For example, while getting your children to help with the cooking, you can all pretend to be world famous chefs who are whipping up one of their well-known creations. Or, you can make up songs about the chores and have a sing-along while performing the chore.
As our children grow up, their tasks need to be more challenging and this is one of the most practical ways to keep the chores interesting for them. Take into account their inputs and considerations and make the task more appealing. You could also adapt chores to match their personalities.
Don't be too harsh on your kids with regard to their chores. If they want to do the chore in a particular manner, allow them to. You can show them how it’s done but don't try to micro-manage the whole affair. The whole point of them doing chores is to get them to become independent and confident. If you nag and micro-manage every little detail, your children will never learn the value of completing a task on their own and this might actually do them more harm than good. Never assign a chore as a punishment as the child will always have a negative association with chores.
Children need structure when they are growing up in order to become responsible adults. Chores provide them this framework, preparing them for life as adults. They learn time management and other skills which help them become independent and conscientious adults. If your children are able to cook a meal for themselves, keep a house and handle money without being wasteful, as a parent you can be rest assured that they will be able to handle pretty much everything life will throw at them.