Teaching children household chores at an early age can help build a lasting sense of self-reliance and responsibility. Chores also teach children how to be empathetic to the needs of others while providing an opportunity to learn valuable life skills like cooking, cleaning, and laundry.
When it comes to chores, a child’s eagerness and enthusiasm often runs counter to his or her ability. The more capable they are to do something, the less willing they seem to be to do it.
Get them off to a smooth start
When determining what chores your kids can do, always keep safety in mind and make sure the task is age-appropriate for their skill level. For example, young children can sweep the floor and clean their bedroom while older children can sort laundry and fill the dishwasher. Don’t insist on perfection. In the early stages, it’s more important to allow your child to experience the joy of a task completed on her own and at her own level of ability.
Even kids as young as three can help around the house. Younger kids in the three to six-year-old range can help with things like cleaning and organizing their bedroom, watering plants and emptying wastebaskets, and clearing the table after dinner. You can task older kids with more challenging jobs like vacuuming the floor, cleaning the toilet, and loading and unloading the dishwasher, dusting the house and changing the air filter for the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system. (For all other HVAC maintenance repair or service, consult with a qualified HVAC technician.)
Keep them engaged and on track
While you should not expect perfection, it’s important to hold kids accountable for their chores. Completing their assigned tasks will give them confidence and a sense of satisfaction for having met their obligations.
Here are a few tips to help ensure ongoing success:
Give reminders and deadlines of when chores need to be completed. Charts are an excellent way to help kids stay on track and see what has been completed and what is next on the list.
Show appreciation. Praise and encourage your kids along the way, not just when the chore is complete. It’s important to build positive momentum, particularly with younger kids.
Stay consistent. Hold your children accountable and try to resist the urge to redo what your child has already done. If they aren’t expected to follow through on their task, they might begin to procrastinate in the hope that someone else will do it for them.
Be specific. When starting out, show them how to perform the chore step-by-step. Keep tasks simple and manageable until they master it, then add more challenging duties.
Start early. Don’t think your child is too young to begin. They are usually more capable than you think.
Assigning your kids household chores and holding them accountable can be challenging, but the effort will pay dividends far beyond the initial investment. Not only will it give you help around the house, it helps kids learn responsibility that will last a lifetime.