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The Chore Wars

We want to ensure our children have everything we had and more, but we don’t want to indulge them. How do we teach them responsibility and help them appreciate all they are given?

After a busy day at work, you’ve helped the children with their homework, prepared dinner, taken care of the pets and are greeted at the top of the stairs by laundry in the hallway and unkept beds.  

Do you mumble under your breath while you collect the kids’ dirty piles?  Do you march your crew up the stairs to clean up their mess?  Do you announce to the guilty party that there will be no stars this evening or no dessert tomorrow?  

One of the many lessons in life that we want to teach our children is how to be self-sufficient.   The Bedford-Central School District distributes “The Kindergarten Experience,” which includes information about what to expect in kindergarten and some ideas for helping your little learner at home. Some of the suggestions for kindergarten-aged students include teaching them to put away belongings and giving children simple responsibilities.

We know they must be on to something at the elementary schools.  Maybe we should be teaching Sally to put her clothes in the hamper and making sure Junior knows how to wash a dish without a machine lest we send them off to college without the common knowledge of laundry and cooking.   

Join our discussion this week as we compare notes on chores and responsibilities.  

  • Do your children have chores?   If so, what?
  • At what age do you start chores? 
  • Should kids do chores for reward or allowance or just because they’re part of the family?  
  • What resources do you use if you’re trying to find ways to get your children to help out more around the house? We've got one: check out Patricia Sprinkle’s book, Children Who Do Too Little.

 

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Elizabeth Schreiber April 06, 2011 at 06:28 PM
I agree with the basic idea of chores - but what I really struggled with a few years back was the basics...dirty clothes on the bathroom floor along with the wet towel, shoes dumped right in the doorway ect. I felt the behavior was just plain rude. We ended up moving to a Contract - my kids signed off that they clearly understood their responsibilities to the family and to get allowance. What we did differently was to do a daily tally. It's hard at the end of a week or month to say he or she earned less because of a "violation". Instead of telling kids multiply times to do something, they felt an immediate impact. The stress went way down and soon they were doing the basics without any reminders.
Lisa Buchman April 06, 2011 at 07:07 PM
I'm so glad I'm not the only one who deals with shoes in the doorway. I just tacked up wipe-off boards on their bedroom doors (ordered from Board Dudes, sort of like a chart) and it too is a daily chart. As they complete a task, they move a star from the current day to the next day. It's only been a week and I've seen improvement. If they comply for a month there's a special reward like dinner out together.
Ayo Hart April 06, 2011 at 07:40 PM
My five year old twins, like Laurie's four year old and most preschoolers, actually like helping out around the house so I'm lucky for now. The girls enjoy setting the table which they elaborate to "making a pretty table" complete with candles and miniatures galore. They are also expected to put their clothes in the hamper and pick up their toys. Of course, the latter is often quite a "war". Mostly, they are good at cleaning up from activitiy to activity. However, on weekends and long days home, Ioften end up tidying the playroom solo because it is just easier. Finally, my girls take turns feeding our pets - two dogs, cat and a fish. Right now, because they don't think of these responsibilities as chores, we don't do allowance or stars or anything. We save those rewards for the bigger battles like staying in their rooms all night and brushing their teeth for two full minutes :)
Ayo Hart April 06, 2011 at 07:48 PM
Beth, I like the idea of the daily count. We were doing a weekly count with the girls for staying in their room, washing their face without reminders, etc. When they reached a certain number of stars, we would reward them with a small surprise, painted toe nails or some other fun thing. It often took too long, and maybe that was why it was so hard for them to adhere to the stars and rewards at the end. Thanks!
Susan Annar April 06, 2011 at 10:11 PM
I'm in a similar routine with my 10 year old daughter as most of you. My two cents would be to say it is SO important for parents to hold their children accountable for work around the house. While in the long run, we may enjoy the convenience of well-trained little people in our homes, in the short-term, it's definitely more effort to teach our kids these habits rather than continuing to do things ourselves. With all that kids in middle-to-upper-class lifestyles are given, the burden falls to the adults to make up reasons for kids to do for themselves! People who have many kids, little to no child care help, tight budgets, or are otherwise stretched thin HAVE to expect more from their children! Those kids grow up learning to work, how work benefits them, to help others with their responsibilities, and to appreciate what they are given in ways that those with "plenty" do not. The well-off parents need to recognize the value of work in the upbringing of their children. It sounds ironic, but I believe the more work kids have to do, the happier they will be ultimately. SO...I am focused on increasing the level of responsibility my daughter is expected to assume...even if it kills me. ; )

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