Let’s face it, chores are a drag! You don’t like to do them and your kids don’t like to do them. But they need to be done. Here are some great ideas for motivating your kids to do their fair share.
Once a child is old enough to show an interest in housework, he is old enough to help. Sure, the assistance of a three-year old usually causes more mess; but in the long run, the payoff is worth it. Teach each job step by step. Don’t assume that the task can be learned properly simply by watching.
Distribute tasks without consideration of sex. Girls need to know how to mow the lawn just as much as boys need to know how to wash laundry. Once a child has shown competence in a certain task, let her work unsupervised. Check the result and compliment the effort. Never redo a task that a child has just done. If you insist that your way is the only right way, then do it yourself. Allow your child to make the job “hers.”
Break big jobs down into steps that can be completed by different family members — not only will the work get done more quickly, but you will be promoting teamwork and cooperation.
Particularly odious tasks should be rotated. If no one likes taking out the garbage, rotate responsibility so that the job doesn’t become a constant burden for one person. Define a particular time of day when all chores need to be completed. Housework should not be left until right before bedtime — after school or before dinner is better.
Finally, remember that a child cannot put in a full day’s work. A solid hour is about all you can expect from a seven-year old. And, while a 14-year old can usually do as much as an adult, this varies by maturity level.
Of course, the best way to motivate kids is to lead by example. Telling the kids to make their beds before coming down to breakfast is hollow if yours is undone until lunch time. If you leave your shoes in the hallway, don’t be surprised if your child does the same.