• Margaret Stefanowicz

The Benefits of Chores for Children - Part Two

Updated: May 13, 2019

How do I assign chores for children?

  1. I demonstrate the “how-to” while they observe me. They are later able to do it by themselves. I support them but avoid micromanaging. That is, except when they are very young like 2 ½-3 years old. I try to remember the old saying “watched pots never boil”. In other words, do not give a child a chore they cannot handle. Of course, they will encounter problems every now and then but with practice, they will learn a valuable lesson. If they should break a glass or plate it will demonstrate to them some mistakes are part of life.

  2. I provide a daily schedule for the children. This schedule includes making their bed when they get up along with tidying up their bedroom (make the bed, place PJ’s in laundry not on the floor). After dinner I have them clean the table, load the dishwasher, put away food and then vacuum the kitchen floor and dining area. I don’t allow them to leave the kitchen, otherwise they never return to complete their chores. Children need to know what is expected of them and when their chores should be performed.

  3. Never pay children for completed chores but do give them an allowance. Children are already rewarded with shelter, clothing, food, and medical care. In addition, they have many un-necessary personal and recreational “goodies”. You can give an allowance as long as it’s not associated with doing chores. The primary purpose of an allowance is to help children develop a sense of financial management. It is not given as a reward for completing chores.

  4. Don’t alternate chores between children. I learned this the hard way. I told the children the day, the time and which one of them would be assigned cleaning up the kitchen after dinner. It seemed to work well at the beginning, but the older child had sports practice two or three times a week following dinner. The younger child volunteered to complete the chore but noted that it wasn’t fair since she was stuck doing the other one’s chores the remaining days of the week. This resulted in needless arguments between the children. To resolve this problem, I had the younger child wipe the dinner table. This was after the dishes were removed and taken to the sink. The child then wiped down the counter top. In the meantime, the older child loaded the dishwasher. After that, the older child vacuumed the dining room and kitchen area. Now five days a week, the younger child wipes the kitchen counter top and island, dining room table while the older child loads the dishwasher and vacuums the kitchen, all after the sports practice.

  5. I soon learned to apply consequences for each chore not completed. In other words, should the child fail or “forget” to complete a chore a consequence must be imposed. For example, I take away certain privileges.

To Begin This Plan:

  • Take a moment to make up a list of privileges such as the things the children really enjoy.

  • Make a list of age appropriate responsibilities. This can be fewer chores for younger children and more for the older ones.

  • Assign a penalty for failing, forgetting or refusing to fulfill their responsibility. Typically, loss of privilege would be the consequence.

  • Sit with the children and clearly explain your plan, making certain they understand what’s expected of them.

  • Apply the rules!

This is the way in which children are prepared for real life. This approach will protect children against wasteful lifestyles and aimless living. The burden of responsibility will be transferred from the parents' shoulders to that of the child.

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