We all want to raise our children to be capable, responsible adults. In order to teach children the value of making a contribution, we should start when they are young by assigning them a few household chores. It can sometimes be challenging to decide what chores are appropriate for your child. Here are a few guidelines:
- Consider your child's maturity and individual abilities in addition to his age when choosing appropriate chores.
Start small and increase your child's responsibilities at home as he grows and matures.
Even very young children can help. Toddlers should be encouraged to help clean up their toys after playtime and learn that there is a proper place for their things.
Be sure that each child's assigned chores include not only caring for his own space and belongings, but caring for common areas as well. Helping in the living room, dining room, kitchen, bathroom and yard reinforces the idea that family members work together to make the household run smoothly.
Reward your child for a job well done. Be sure to praise him for his efforts. Allowances, if they are given, should not be based on chores. It is important to teach children that every member of a household contributes because it is the right thing to do, not because he is paid for it.
Base chore responsibilities on age and ability, not on gender. By having children of both sexes learn to do a variety of chores, you will help them to grow into well-rounded, self sufficient people.
Safety first! Before your child is allowed to use equipment that is potentially dangerous, such as a lawn mower, be sure that he has had clear instruction on proper use. Be sure to observe him for the first few times.
Try to avoid doing your child's chores if they seem to be taking a long time. It can be tempting, especially on busy days, to take over a child's task rather than allowing him sufficient time to do it himself. Yes, it is quicker, but try to be patient and realize that teaching responsibility is investing in your child's future.
If your family includes more than one child, allow the children to "swap" chores if they'd like. This will help them to learn to be flexible and also to help one another out when one has a time crunch. For example, it is permissible for one child to take on a sibling's chores when that child is busy studying for an important test. The other child can return the favor as needed. Allow the children to negotiate the terms on their own.