A clean house means household members are healthier as well. Household chores are a fact of life that families should do equally but if this is not happening in your household, it’s time to employ some tactics for motivating your family members to do their chores equally. Reminding, nagging or pleading doesn’t produce results.
Five Essential Tips
Here are five essential tips to ensure that these chores are shared and done.
- Write a List of Chores for Each Family Member
Depending on each child’s age, there are certain chores that he/she can do. Toddlers can pick up their toys, games, and books after they use them, put dirty clothes and towels in the hamper, and stack magazines, to name a few. Elementary school age kids can feed the pets, water indoor plants, sort out socks, shake out floor mats, make their beds, and fold washed clothing and towels.
Middle school age kids and teenagers can empty bathroom trash cans, dust furniture, straighten bookshelves, rake leaves, wipe smudges off of bedroom doors, shovel snow, set the dining table, wipe down faucets and sinks in bathrooms, mow the lawn, dust mop floors, wipe fronts of cupboards, sort out things for recycling, strip off bed lines to put in the laundry area, and clean their own rooms.
- Ensure that Everybody Does at Least Two Chores
Don’t let gender roles limit participation in doing the chores. While some are more traditional than others like doing the dishes or the laundry, there is no reason why boys shouldn’t do these; likewise, girl can clean out the garage like their brothers. Teenagers should be able to make their own beds and clean their own rooms, meaning you should stop doing both chores and let them take over.
Younger kids can be taught to put wrappers of snacks in the trash and their toys in the designated storage. Kids should learn early on that the living room or the family room is not one big garbage dump. Likewise, teenagers should take responsibility for the upkeep of their own rooms (this includes the vacuuming!). Ensure that everybody gets two chores that need to be done regardless of whether the child doing it likes it or not like raking the leaves.
- Create a Schedule
Chores should have a schedule which should be placed in an area where everybody can see or have access to it like a small white board in the kitchen. This schedule should include a calendar that has to be filled in with who will do the chores and when. A small check after each chore means it has been done or is being done and an “X” means it hasn’t been given attention.
When a chore is left unattended, the family member who is responsible should be reminded of it. If things remain the same, you need to call out to the family member and impose sanction such as no internet surfing or cable TV until the chore is done. Never nag or criticize a child who stubbornly refuses to do his/her chores. Your actions will speak louder: chores left undone have consequences.
- Renegotiate Terms
If things are not turning out the way they are supposed to, it’s time to renegotiate terms for the chores. If your child prefers to do chores that revolve around the kitchen such as washing pots and pans after the cooking is done or food preparation, give him/her more tasks in this area but, as mentioned, don’t forget those couple of chores that he/she might not like but should do anyway.
Simply put, give your child more chores which he/she prefers, albeit see to it that these are not those which don’t require much effort like dusting. You don’t want to slave drive your kids but you don’t want them doing chores haphazardly either. Kids need to learn that effort comes with work and that a job well done hones skills which they will need later in life.
- Offer Praise and Incentives
Rewarding chores well done doesn’t mean monetary compensation which takes away all the values you are trying to teach your kids. Offer praise instead to help motivate them and build their self-esteem. Incentives are another thing you can offer but, again, this doesn’t mean the financial kind. Treat your kids to sundaes or candy for good work done that week or get him/her a favorite comic book, or maybe even something to make the chores a little easier!.
Rather than reprimanding them when they make mistakes while doing their chores, praise is a positive reaction that will encourage them to do even better next time. While it isn’t entirely bad to give an occasional dollar, you need to emphasize that the money is a “treat” and not “compensation.” The earlier your kids learn that the cash is not the goal for doing chores, the sooner they will understand why they need to be done.