Raising Little Helpers

Susan Wells
June 12, 2016

The house is a mess. You're exhausted and the kids are running all over the house because they have nothing to do. Does it feel like your kids follow you around the house creating messes where you just cleaned one up?

It's time for family chores.

"The family that cleans together, stays together" may be pushing it, but it's important that your children learn responsibility and how to take care of themselves.

Preschool children are fully capable, ready and excited to be grown up and help out. Some good starter chores are setting the table for dinner, clearing their dishes at the end of the meal, putting toys away after playtime, pulling the covers up on their bed and making it, putting their laundry away (jeans go in this drawer, shirts are hung up here and the dirty laundry goes in the hamper each night).

Keep the tasks around 10 minutes or less. They don't have to be huge or really detailed. After about 10 minutes, even the most dedicated preschooler will begin to lose interest, and it will turn into a battle instead of a chore. Also, make sure they participate in a chore every day to build a routine. This routine will help keep your child motivated and returning to a chore.

Remind yourself that you are building self-confidence, motivation and a sense of belonging in your child. Your child can be a functioning, active member of the family if they join in the chore work.   And although it's true that a chore for the kids is also a chore for you to keep them going with it, it's worth the effort.  Because before you know it, you could have kids who actually help around the house.

Here are some ways to include your children in chores around the house:

Build an old-fashioned chore chart. List everyone in the family and give them some weekly jobs around the house. If everyone earns enough stars or happy faces, the family can earn an ice cream or movie night. Or keep it inexpensive and earn a day at the park or a game night.

Make clean-up time a game. How many Legos can you put into the box? Can you pick up more stuffed animals than I can in 5 minutes?

Whistle while you work. This didn't just help Snow White. It lightens the mood, gets you dancing and before you know it, the task is complete. Put your favorite playlist on or sing while you work. The best thing to come out of Barney was the Clean Up Song. Cheesy, yes, but also effective.

Do the chores with your kiddo. Dust the high stuff while your preschooler dusts the low stuff. Let them vacuum the middle of the rug while you straighten other areas. Then go back and finish the job. They may not be able to do a spic-and-span job on everything, but that's not always the point. Vacuuming helps them feel big, important and part of the family. It builds the foundation for later years when they will be expected to vacuum and do a good job. They will have built the skill while practicing as a little one.

Chores are as important to childhood as band-aids and bicycles. You may not raise a neat freak, but it will build the knowledge and skill so they will be able to take care of their own household one day.

 

From the Parents

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