Here are some steps on how to begin and a few things to keep in mind:
- BRAINSTORM: Spend time with your kids brainstorming the tasks needed to help the family; don't simply tell them what to do. This is a key part of the buy-in process. Once tasks have been identified, create a Chores List your kids can reference to ensure daily tasks are completed.
- TRAINING. Take time to train your kids on how to complete each task. And when they're ready to do the job alone, let them know you're there for guidance, if needed.
- HOW OLD ARE YOU? Tasks need to be age appropriate. Chores for tweens can range from changing bed sheets, doing laundry, washing dishes, preparing a family meal, and buying groceries to keeping their own appointments, running neighborhood errands, packing their own suitcases, and waiting on guests.
- COME TOGETHER. You can create a time during the day or week when everyone works together on a particular task (preparing dinner, setting up the table, and doing the dishes; cleaning out the garage; spring cleaning).
- "AS SOON AS..." You can use the "As soon as..." formula to encourage your kids to get their work done. "As soon as you're finished with your chores, you can go play."
- ROTATE, ROTATE, ROTATE. Since kids are easily bored, consider rotating chores on a regular basis (perhaps every two months or so).
- YOU DID WHAT? Always notice the contribution not the quality of the work. And when accidents happen, focus on solutions not punishment. Use the experience to teach your kids that mistakes are wonderful opportunities to learn.
- THE OVERWHELM. Do not rescue your kids or feel sorry for them; they are more resourceful than you think. If they have too much homework and extra-curricular activities on their plate, take this as a great opportunity to teach them time-management skills. Help them organize their time to continue helping the family.
- A NAG NO MORE. Use nonverbal reminders (that you have previously agreed upon) and even a bit of humor to remind your kids to complete their chores.
- GOT PROBLEMS? If problems come up, work out the solutions during your weekly family meeting. Don't get into a power struggle or try to address the issue in that moment. Instead, you can say, "Let's put this issue on the family meeting agenda, and solve it when we both feel better." (Yes, every family needs a weekly meeting. More to come in a later post.)
And yes, household chores and money don't mix. Ever.
Park Slope Parents | Chair, Tweens Group Advisory Board
The Boyhood Project | Founder + Parenting Strategist
"raising emotionally intelligent boys to transform the world"
Photo credit: Roy Luck via here