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Practical Parenting – Chores II

In my last blog, a recipe for developing a family culture of cooperation and mutual agreement for keeping the home healthy and safe was put forth.  The primary premise was that all stakeholders would accept certain communal chores to ensure success.

Now, what if un-rinsed dishes fail to find their way into the dishwasher, garbage collects in corners, food crumbs are found in the hallway, and toys are strewn about the place?  Worse yet, what if father isn’t cooperating?

Start with gentle reminders.  “Peter, put the peanut butter back in the fridge, please.” Since good teaching is the willingness to repeat oneself, you may very well have to say it a number of times, but avoid embellishments such as, “How many times have I told you to…”  If you still don’t get results, make the peanut butter disappear.  This Houdini act is very effective with toys left under foot and not properly stowed.  When these latter responses are employed, keep in mind that peanut butter and toys can re-appear when future behavior becomes more compatible with family goals.

When the desirable behavior occurs, seize the opportunity to note the accomplishments by sincerely and enthusiastically describing the helpful behavior to them - even the smallest achievements: “Wow! You turned off the lights!” “Gee, you wiped off the countertop – way to go!”  It sounds so basic, but it shows them you’re paying attention, and often they’ll try even harder to follow household rules.

Loving encouragement is one of the most important aspects of child rearing, and using it liberally will simplify many areas of your life with kids.  And, of course, a good way to instill rules of any type is by your quiet example – practice what you preach!

Household rules and courtesies may seem elementary to you, but they have to be taught to kids.  Once they become established as habits in each member of the household, your family life will be immeasurably simpler.    

My next blog will speak to those chores that can stretch members of the house and even earn an allowance!

Ray Volker, Headmaster

Posted by Headmaster Raymond Volker on Friday November, 21, 2014

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