Q: We have three children, ages 9, 6 and 2. I know that chores are important, but I’m having a difficult time following through with a plan. By the time everyone finishes homework, it’s time for bed and I wind up doing the kids’ chores. Do you have any advice?
A: Helping out around the house is an important part of childhood. By completing chores, children learn responsibility and develop skills needed to become independent. Receiving praise for their hard work promotes good self-esteem and a feeling of accomplishment. Nevertheless, it’s often difficult to establish and enforce a household routine that includes chores for the children.
When establishing a list of household responsibilities, parents should be as specific as possible. For example, “keep the playroom clean” is too general and vague and should be replaced with “put away toys in playroom after dinner.”
It’s also a good idea to start with a few simple daily tasks and build from there. At almost any age, children can understand the concept of placing dirty clothes in the hamper and putting their shoes away. This is a great place to start.
As the chore list grows beyond daily expectations, reward charts are a great way to provide positive reinforcement. As you might expect, there are apps that can track progress, provide rewards and even allow kids to turn chores into a game, competing against each other.