By Aurelia Williams, author of Getting out of the SuperMom Trap
A few generations ago, children were commonly expected to help around the house. When society was mainly based on agricultural endeavors, children were expected to help around the farm as well. Our society has changed and so has our expectation of our children. Learning to delegate household chores to children can benefit both the children and the parents.
Let’s admit it, mom and dad work hard all day. Facing household chores in the evening can take away time that should be spent with kids, stress you out or just add another burden to your otherwise overloaded to do list - something I talk about extensively in Getting out of the SuperMom Trap. Delegating household chores between all the occupants of the house seems only fair. There are jobs around the house even the smallest child can do.
Chores are great for the kids as well. Though they may complain, forget or otherwise try to find ways out of chores they do benefit from them. They are taught responsibility, essential life skills and even some reasoning skills. Learning to do dishes or laundry is essential to any child. They need to be able to do these on their own some day so they may as well start doing these at home. It also gives them a feeling of accomplishment.
What chores kids can do, really depends on the age and the ability of that child. You may want to do the chore with them to begin with. Show them the correct way, then let them try it with your supervision. If they do okay, assign them this chore. Always follow up and make sure their chores are done and done correctly. Remember they are kids and are just learning.
Preschoolers can perform the basic chores. They can learn to pick up after themselves. Take care of their toys, make their beds and this kind of chore is ideal.
Older from 6 to 9 children can do all this plus learn to take care of the pets, fold and take care of laundry and even learn to vacuum and sweep floors.
Children for 10 to 13 can take on even more responsibility. They can do dishes, clean the bathrooms and even learn to cook simple meals with supervision.
Once they have reached the age of 14 consider more responsibility. Laundry can be done by older children as well as car care, preparing meals or any other chore that parents feel they are capable of doing.
Some children are more adapt at helping around the household than others. Children who want to learn to cook and clean should be encouraged. Supervising young children around the stove and other hot appliances is essential, but they should be allowed to try these things when they feel they are ready.
With the question of chores comes the question of allowance. This is a very popular subject in many a child’s mind. There are different theories as to who should get allowance, how much and what for.
Sit down and discuss with your child their responsibilities around the house. Talk to them about how much they think these chores are worth. Teach them that their time and effort is worth something, but they have to be realistic. Let them be part of the decision of allowances and what chores are parts of that.
Parents are responsible for teaching their children important life skills. Teaching them how to keep up a house and themselves should be included. Show them it is a team effort to keep the house running smoothly. Everyone pitching in to keep a comfortable, clean house will show them it is worth the effort.
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