Getting children to help out with household chores is a chore in itself! Ever get so tired of nagging them that you are sorely tempted to just let them be and complete the chores yourself? That seems so much easier sometimes, right?
However, just like schooling, play and friends, doing daily chores is an important, even essential part of growing up. Getting your child to help out with the household tasks has many benefits: it teaches her responsibility and to take ownership of tasks. Completing her chores, and doing them well, will enhance her sense of self-esteem and give her a sense of her own competence. Finally, it inculcates in children a good and positive attitude towards work, and gives them a taste of what the ‘grown-up’ world looks like. And don’t underestimate the help you can get from an extra pair of hands, with all the things that need to be done at home!
Of course, India is a little different from the rest of the world in that you have domestic help to take care of the ‘heavy’ work; nevertheless, do train your children in household tasks – this is an essential skill for when they will be adults. It is never too early to get your child started on household chores. You can start her off with small responsibilities even as early as the age of two or three. However, ensure that the jobs you allocate to your children are age-appropriate and not too challenging.
Allocating Age-Appropriate Chores
The table below will give you an idea of the kinds of tasks that children can be expected to elp out with at different ages. Keep in mind, though, that not all children are alike and while some kids will be able to handle their chores easily, others may need more time and patience. Also, when it comes to very young children, consider that while toddlers may not really be of much help, getting them to do small odd-jobs is a way to train them for when they are older, and to help them understand that they have a role to play within the household as well. However, be prepared to lend them a hand and maybe even clean up again after them!
Tips on Making Chores Fun
- Have a ‘chore system’ in place that will clearly delineate your child’s responsibilities, and by when you expect these to be completed. Not only will this help her finish her work quickly and efficiently, but will also allow her to plan how best to complete her responsibilities, so she can enjoy her ‘free’ time later on.
- It may be helpful to use charts that list the different responsibilities, which you can then tick off as and when they are completed. Chore charts are very visual and children will feel a sense of satisfaction when they see ticks against their tasks. Check out this website; it has some helpful charts for different age groups that can be freely printed and used: http://www.momswhothink.com/printables/printable-chorecharts.html.
- Don’t insist on perfection from the beginning – ‘train’ her on how to complete the tasks allocated to her, and then give her time and be patient; you may need to train the younger ones several times.
- Motivate and encourage your child constantly. Talk to her about helping out around the house. If she feels that she is helping you by completing her chores, she will be more willing to work at them than if she feels that she is being ordered to do them! Also praise her good work and effort and encourage her to feel more responsible (“you are so grown up now,” “will you please help me out with this?”).
- Have a reward system in place – a ‘smiley’ chart which gets filled as she does her chores. When the chart is filled up, she gets a treat. This teaches her to ‘earn’ a reward, with the recompense not necessarily being money.
- Give her small treats – if she helps with packing when you are going on a trip, she gets to pack her own bag with three things she wants to take; if she helps lay the table, she gets to arrange the spoons and forks in a nice design; if she helps with shopping, she gets to buy a chocolate, etc.
- If possible, allow your child to pick and choose jobs she enjoys doing.
- There are many fun ways in which to get children to do their chores, especially younger children. When your toddler needs to clean up her room, she can accompany the activity with a fun song like “Time to Put your Toys Away”. You can also use role play – house-house – to teach children to lay the table, help with dusting, etc. So even as they are playing games, your children are learning to help with household tasks.
- Encourage friendly competition amongst siblings to see who completes their work first, who does a better job, who is more cheerful, etc.