Even parents abhor chores. Yet, household chores are necessary to every day life — they also help children learn to take care of themselves and their environment. For young children the key is finding age appropriate chores and making them fun.
Children should learn to function as contributing members of the family. But it is important to remember that kids already have one very important job — growing up. It may sound silly, but growing up is serious business!
Young children have to learn physical dexterity, speech, and social interaction. Middle aged children continue to improve on these, particularly the details of social interaction, and they have to go to school. Thus, for children ages 2 to 10 it is imperative that parents understand the demands that simply growing-up already places on a child, and not place too many additional chore-based demands upon them.
That being said, some level of chores is a great idea, and can actually help young children to learn. To make chores easier in your house, here are some tips.
Tips for Chores
1. Start around two, simply having them help pick up toys. Make it fun. Ask them to help you pick up their room, and if they put even one or two toys away, while you do a hundred, praise them, telling them how helpful and grown-up they are.
2. As your child grows, let them do a bit more of the toy clean-up. Also, encourage them to help clean-up in other areas, such as carrying dishes to the kitchen after meals or helping unpack groceries. Make the chores doable and fun; praise often.
3. If you find your child dislikes a certain chore, but does not seem to mind others, then assign them the acceptable chore.
4. Make chores a game. Race to see who can do their chore first. Or, complete your tasks, then have a “judging round”, each judging the other’s work. Be creative: if you have two children who take the garbage outside, then buy two colors of trash bags. Assign one black, the other white: when the white bag is full, she has to take it outside to the can. She then replaces it with a fresh black bag, indicating that the next time the trash is full, it is his turn to take it out.
With a little creativity, you can have your little one learning responsibility, while still having fun. Of course, in a few years they may expect to be paid for these chores – but you can cross that bridge when you come to it!