Having your kids help around the house is not only a time saver for you but can also make them more responsible and self-reliant. Letting them do chores builds a habit of organization and creates structure that will carry them through life. According to the Visiting Nurse Association, “studies show that children who have chores at home are more successful in school than children who don’t have chores. They get better grades and are more social and confident.” So getting the kids involved is a part of parenting that helps them learn and grow into stronger adults. Keeping this in mind, here are a few tips to make chores fun and easy for kids to get involved with.
Everyone needs a little praise and positive reinforcement when taking on a task and kids are no different. Something as simple as a high-five or big hug can let your child know that you appreciate their help and that you couldn’t have done it without them. Appreciation doesn’t always have to be a rewards system like a snack or extra TV time. A little verbal praise can always go a long way.
Help them help you
Instead of sending your child off to do a chore ask them to help you out with something you already have to do. If you have a mountain of laundry to fold sit down with them and assign them a specific article of clothing. For example, “Ok you are in charge of folding the towels and I will fold the shirts and pants.” Not only is it something the two of you can do together, but it can also give them a sense of personal responsibility.
Whistling while you work is an age old philosophy that makes a mundane task just a little easier to get through. Having a clean-up song is a great way to get kids excited about cleaning. Borrow lines from Barney’s classic, “clean up, clean up, everybody do your share,” or make up one of your own and personalize it specifically to your child by adding their name or what they are cleaning.
Instead of giving them an obviously easy task like putting away their blocks, give them something seemingly difficult. You could ask them to vacuum—given you have a handheld cleaner—and telling them, “Mommy usually does this herself but I think you can handle helping out.” This way when they complete it they will feel like they’ve accomplished something big and not just an everyday chore. Compliments for a task of this magnitude may be, “wow what a big boy,” or “I can’t believe what a great job you did.” Also phrases like, “would you like to help me out with a big task,” makes children feel needed and important.
Keep Encouragement High
A little encouragement goes a long way. Rather than demanding that they do something make them feel like they have a job and responsibility that they are in charge of. For example saying “go pick up your toys,” sounds very different than “ok it’s 3:30, that’s the time we clean up.” The latter makes them feel like they are independent and are fulfilling a responsibility.
Adopt a game
Mary Poppins said it best when she explained that there is an element of fun in every job. If you find the fun the “job becomes a game.” This is where your creativity is particularly important. An example could be a timing game where you put five minutes on the clock and challenge them to have their toys put away before the timer sounds. Putting up dirty clothes could become a basketball tournament, shooting them in the laundry basket then making sure to clean up all the missed shots. If they feel like they’re playing a game then it’s no longer chore time, but an extension of their play time.