Children grow up too fast. Before you know it, they are grown up and soon to be on their way to college. While they’re growing up, however, parents need to instill life skills into their children that will serve useful in their future. These are tasks such as cooking a meal or learning to do their own laundry. These differ from a child’s chores, which are tasks that benefit the household. A child may empty the dishwasher, for instance, or take out the family’s garbage—these are chores.
Parents can start these tasks as young as a toddler. If you have a young child, get them excited about picking up their toys. Make your child a chore chart and have fun stickers to place on it. Each time your child places a book on a shelf or puts a toy in their toy basket, which are appropriate tasks for children 2-3 years old, reward them. Give them one Skittle or let them place a sticker on the chart. When they get so many stickers, let them go pick out a new toy at the toy store or put a a dollar in their piggy bank. Positive reinforcement is key and children pick it up quickly.
As the child gets older, the tasks a parent asks of them may get more difficult. For instance, a 6-7 year old may be capable or emptying the dishwasher, raking leaves, folding towels or weeding the garden. A 10-11 year old may be taught and expected to clean the bathrooms, bring in the mail from outside and mow the family’s lawn. As the child gets older, the incentives should increase. Instead of the sticker method, you may reward them with an allowance. If they don’t do their chores, then the incentive will not be paid. This is also a great way to teach children consequences, but do it with love.
On another note, the child should be taught why they are being asked to do chores. They may use the common phrase, “Well Johnny doesn’t have to do chores!” They have to grasp that these chores are preparing them for a bright future. In no way are they a punishment, but they are guiding them to learn new skills. For young girls, mopping their parent’s kitchen and preparing meals will help them when they have their own families. And for young boys, mowing the lawn or sweeping out the garage is common among adult men. Don’t just tell the child “You have to do it.”; they won’t respond well.
And finally, always teach the child a new chore with love. Don’t treat the chore as work. but as play. If you make it fun, they will always remember they learned it from you. If you are hasty when teaching it, however, they might remember that and back away from it. Children are very perceptive, so be in tune to that. And remember, always reward them for their work. Hide money behind picture frames. That will be a fun way to get them to dust the fireplace!