Chore is not a dirty four letter word!
Doing chores as a family helps develop sensitivity and tenderness towards others. Incorporating chores as part of your training reaps much benefit both for you and your child.
Doing chores with kids may not always be convenient. Especially when you first begin. It takes longer and you have to demonstrate patience and tolerance for errors and imperfections, compared to when you are just whizzing around the house doing it all by yourself. But persevere. Lavish them with your praises and work on their initial resistance to this new training skill. The key to effective chore training is to be consistent and to make it fun and rewarding. You might have to come up with some creative systems that are workable for your season of life and you may need to tweak them from time to time as your child matures in age, skill and responsibility.
At the heart of chore training is cultivating a heart of servitude. How do you do that? By showing them that they are part of something larger than themselves, that of their family. By doing chores children learn the practical skills needed for independent living and remove their magical thinking that things will somehow just appear as needed. It shows them the value of labour and helps them appreciate acts of service. Doing chores help cultivates a heart of gratitude, and removes the destructive mentality of entitlement. It promotes the virtues of discipline and diligence in action, and prepares them for a successful entrance into adulthood.
How do you view domestic chore? Do you love them or loathe them? We should be careful not to belittle the work we do at home because children will very quickly pick up on our negative vibes and develop an avoidance towards work. Many people run into boredom because they just don’t love their work. As parents we should not feel guilty about involving children in working alongside us. We may start with just giving them instructions but we want to work towards assigning the full responsibility to them at the end of the day. Imagine the confidence your child will develop knowing that such trust is awarded to him by his parents! Imagine the ease and skill developed as a result of routinely handling the chore regularly. Children who are trained to do chore at home will be more content, confident, well rounded and valuable towards others.
When we start with chore training, we need not only teach them the hows to do things, but also the attitude that is required to do the work. Think about your own attitude towards chores. Do you procrastinate? Do you pick after yourself? Do you restore things to their original places once removed? Do you have a sour spirit while you wash the dishes? Do you get angry when your spouse isn’t doing his job? Or do you display a happy spirit while working? Do your children catch you singing as you clean the bathroom?
As a family, we have miles to travel on in this journey. But I am excited as I can see a marked improvement from where we were 1 year ago. While teaching the kids and allowing them to help, I have also seen my own shades of less-than-holy attitude I have about housework and my tendency to be perfectionistic at the expense of others. Thank God that in Him we can be changed from glory to glory.
Teaching children will never end, and there is never going to be a point where you reach perfection. But you can encourage yourself in seeing progress. Being teachable and not thinking i know it all is where I want to be. These are the ingredients for a happy home. Remove the entitlement mentality, and set your kids up for a life of productivity.
Regarding teaching children the right work ethos, several scriptures come to mind. You can study and memorise them together with your kids and laminate them in various places around the house to remind yourself and your children the reason for your work at home.
A good book that helps me in my own attitude towards my work at home is “The Everyday Gospel” by Tim Chester
Here is a broad example of the different skills we can teach and expect from the different age category – these are generalised as you may adapt it to your child’s level and your current situation – but this is a good base to start with.
As with the introduction of any new skill, when you first begin with chore training, remember to:
1) Take the time and show them how to do it – work alongside until they understand what to do, and do it with an encouraging tone and plenty of praises.
2) Keep it simple and doable.
3) Don’t do for them what they can do for themselves.
4) Watch them do it by themselves
5) Let them do it without supervision
6) Reward with plenty of verbal and physical affections and an occasional treat.
A quick search on “Kids Chore” on Pinterest would give you loads of ideas on coming up with a system that is fun, enjoyable and rewarding.
When we first begun, we used the idea of using chore cards. I have attached the file for appropriate chores for 3-4 years old below. Feel free to reproduce these in your own home and adapt it as you see fit.
You may use these cards in the following manner:
1) To be used for review with your child at bed time/during dinner until he knows what is expected of him. Work on introducing a small number of new skills at one go and store the ones that he has mastered for his younger sibling. Let him see his sibling’s box increasing while his decreases.
2) Place them inside a lanyard for him to “wear” as he goes around accomplishing his task around the house, and then get him to stick the done chores onto the fridge/a whiteboard to collect a sticker reward at the end.
3) Use velcro stickers at the back of the laminated chore cards to produce the rip off and stick on sounds which children love. Let them transfer on a felt board the tasks from the column “To Do” to “DONE” which you create.
Chores may be divided into “duty chores” or “labour chores” (Growing Kids God’s Way, Chapter 8, Gary and Anne Marie Ezzo). Duty chores are part of what is required for the individual to contribute to the family whereas labour chores may be compensated with monetary rewards that help attach value to labour that is done over and above the normal requirements.
This is an example is this daily chore list we have created for our 7 year old.
She doesn’t get paid for these daily chores, they are expected and required of her. But every Saturday we allow the kids to have a “Paid Chore Day”. They can receive payment for jobs that I need to get done that are over and above their daily list, such as raking the leaves or tackling the laundry monster. I am currently coming up with a list of all the bigger house cleaning projects that are not part of my every day cleaning regime. I can then assign different dollar values to these jobs and they may choose to do them or not. My kids really love Paid Chore Day and they look forward and beg us to have more of it during the week! It builds into their enjoyment the idea of work and helps them understand the meaning of value. It also helps to reduce the demand of buying something that catches their eyes while shopping that are not part of my original intent. It is a joy to see them buying something that they want with their own hard earned money. 🙂