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Practical Parenting - Chores I

At the just completed Coffees with the Heads, some time was given at each on suggestions to help children learn responsibility by participating in household chores. In addition to responsibility, children develop a strong self-concept by being a contributing member of a unit, have expectations for performance that are attainable, gain satisfaction in a job well done, and gain a little discipline to boot. Each of these lay the foundation for a work ethic that recent studies indicate to be severely lacking in young adults entering the real world.  

The process starts with a family meeting which can be conducted at any time when everyone is gathered on a regular basis – meal times are a good choice. The concept of chores starts with not talking about them, but instead what initiates them. In the home, this easily revolves around health and safety. There can be little argument that one needs to maintain this type of living environment, and once children have survived toddlerhood they are ready to embrace this as well. Make sure that you have buy-in from all stakeholders on this point. Once completed, it is then easier to make the connection to the chores that need to be done to maintain this condition.

The list begins with chores that everyone should do whether specifically assigned to them or not. Some obvious ones to discuss with your children – remember they don’t come by this naturally – are the following:

  1. When you finish using a dish, rinse it and place in the dishwasher.
  2. When you take something out of the refrigerator, the cupboard, a drawer, or a toolbox put it back where it belongs when finished using it.
  3. When you create garbage or trash, dispose of it in the appropriate manner: garbage can or disposal, compost bin, recycling boxes, or wastebasket.
  4. Wipe off counters after using them.
  5. Confine eating to areas agreed upon. Every other room is off limits.
  6. Ask permission before you borrow something, and always return it in the same condition.
  7. Close, don’t slam doors
  8. Turn off lights and power when rooms or appliances are not in use.
  9. Take off dirty or wet shoes before entering the home.
  10. Hang up coats and jackets (have coat trees or hooks that children can reach).

Make sure that both parents are active participants in the process. The list applies to you, too. As we’ve noted on several occasions, “It’s not what you say, but what you do that makes the greatest impact.”

Lastly, do not judge the quality of the job at first, but the fact that it was attempted and accomplished. Celebrate initiative and process, then outcome. This particularly applies to the youngest family members. It is also important to review your family goals at regular intervals – monthly is suggested to keep it fresh and to review levels of cooperation and fairness.

Next time, we’ll address how to keep the process going, and what to do when push back occurs.


Posted by Mr. Raymond Volker on Saturday November, 8, 2014

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