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Teamwork in the Family… Children and Chores

Submitted by on November 22, 2010 – 7:54 AM3 Comments
Teamwork in the Family… Children and Chores

What a great time of the year!  The leaves are changing.  The days are cooler.  The smell of firewood pervades the evening air.  All the signs of the coming holidays surround us.  We think of our dear family members and friends and times ahead when we may gather together.  We think about special foods we will prepare and special surprises we will give to our loved ones.  Many of us will be preparing our home for overnight guests, and we want everything to be as perfect as possible.  We want our guests to find our homes attractive and comfortable.  We want their time with us to be happy and memorable.  All of these expectations and preparations go so much more smoothly with teamwork in the home.  This  holiday preparation time is a perfect time for parents to examine the role their children are playing in the chores of the home.

This would be a good time to call a family meeting and talk about the tasks that need to be done.  If you have not previously discussed a list of chores, introduce the idea that everyone in the family is part of a team.  Explain why helping is important and that everyone will have certain jobs to do from now on.  Explain that even though children may be of different ages and abilities, each person can do specific chores to make the home run smoothly.  When everyone does their part on the team, then the family will have more time to do enjoyable things together.

Parents can make a list of the jobs that need to be done.  I think it is a good idea to ask children which chores they would like to do.  Some children really like to vacuum while others love to help in the kitchen. Help your children be realistic about jobs that are appropriate for their age.  We can’t expect our preschooler to mow the lawn even though that may seem very interesting to him!  Guide your children to choose jobs they can successfully accomplish on their own.  After the children decide on a job or jobs, you may wish to make a job chart.  Try to have equal numbers of jobs for each child.  The job chart should be posted in an easy to see location, such as a bulletin board or refrigerator.   The chart should list the job and days of week for the job to be done.  For younger children who can not yet read, draw pictures to depict the jobs. Help your child to mark the chart each day.  They can check the box, draw a smiley face or place a sticker to indicate the job was done.  I recommend that parents reward children for completing their jobs weekly.  The rewards can include special time with mom and dad or choosing a special activity or video.  Another good reward is to choose something special for dinner and being able to help prepare the meal.  If your child does not do his assigned chore, establish a natural consequence. The child should know the consequence in advance.  Examples of meaningful consequences include loss of an activity or privilege, such as watching television, staying up a little later on the weekend, or attending a special event.

Here is a simplified version of a job chart.  You will want to list specific jobs for your home.  These may include:  Setting the dinner table, taking dirty clothes to the laundry, clearing the dinner table, and making your bed.

Family Job Chart

Job Who is Responsible Mon Tues.
Toy RoomYour browser may not support display of this image. Madi
Feed DogYour browser may not support display of this image. Hailey
Empty TrashYour browser may not support display of this image. Madi
Help with LaundryYour browser may not support display of this image. Hailey

Another idea that works well for many parents is to switch off job tasks every other week. By doing so, children learn to be responsible for doing many kinds of household chores well.  I am always amazed at how well my dear sweetheart can do so many household tasks well.   He does laundry, grocery shops, and cooks daily along with doing many outside tasks. I compliment him often. He is an awesome man!! (PLEASE COMPLIMENT YOUR CHILDREN!) He always tells me to thank his mother! His mother expected him to help with chores and he grew up doing many chores well as a way of life.  If he wanted to play baseball with his friends or go to special events, the chores had to be completed first.

Just remember to be sure your child knows what you expect.  You may have to help get him get started in learning how to do a chore well.  At the end of each week, spend a few moments as a family to discuss how the team work is going.  Maybe there are some new jobs that need to be added.  Let your children tell you what they are doing well and anything they feel they need help with.  It is important to let your children evaluate their progress and for family members to be able to share their opinions.  As you help your children be responsible family members, you will be instilling self discipline that can make a difference for a life time.  What a great gift to give your child!  Hope your holidays are “chorefully joyful!”

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  • Uncle Diddy says:

    I don’t remember having any chores growing up. I think it made me spoiled rotten. This is a great way to develop life long habits for your children.

  • This blog was an inspiration, Dr. Annie! I’ve been working a whole heck of a lot with the girls on chores and picking up lately. I not only want them to be neat, responsible, considerate little people, but I want to be able to keep my sanity as a mother. I have come to one major conclusion recently, I can’t do it alone. I wish I were super mom and could get everything done in one swoop, but despite my efforts just can’t do it all on my own. If Madilynne and Hailey can’t clean up after themselves, there is no hope! 🙂

    I have yet to implement a chore chart (which is on my to-do list) but we have however divided the major kid areas. One is in charge of the playroom for one week, while the other is in charge of the bedroom. Then they switch. This in turn eliminates the constant bickering and blame shifting…”MOM, Hailey’s not picking up!!” Or the ever so famous, “Why do I have to pick it up?” They know what room is their responsibility and take pride in their area.

    I am constantly surprised at their constantly growing abilities. Madilynne even vacuumed the playroom the other day! Another neat chore for them is the bathrooms. They can use vinegar water (inexpensive, kills germs, and non-toxic)and I don’t have to worry about them wasting or eating it. Not to mention that it’s safe for all surfaces. They have a blast and actually do a pretty good job!

    Children want to please us…it’s up to us as parents to implement the structure and follow up in order for them to learn and grow!!

    As always, thank you for your wonderful contribution! I love you and hope you have the most fabulous Thanksgiving Holiday!!

    Warm wishes,

  • Elena says:

    I also need to implement some chores for Gavin. He feeds the dog, and occasionally helps empty the dishwasher, but we need to make it more of a regular expectation so that there is no discussion. He enjoys being helpful in small doses (don’t we all) but is of the age where I can begin to expect more of him to help mommy and daddy out.

    Thank you, Dr. Annie! I hope you and your sweetheart had a lovely Thanksgiving!