Getting kids involved with household chores

Kids. Photo: The Huffington Post

Every child belongs to a family and so I believe it is important to be a part of that home by contributing your quota. A child is not expected to be financially giving in a home, but imbibing household chores instils some form of responsibility and influence in the home.

Chores should not be optional, we all live together as a family, there is need for laundry, cleaning; we eat, thereby having dirty dishes, and spill crumbs and liquids on the floor. We should be responsible for fixing these. It’s our home!

First is ensuring that kids understand why they are made to engage in household chores. Doing chores helps children learn about what they need to do to care for themselves, a home and a family. They learn skills they can use in their adult lives, like preparing meals, cleaning, organising and keeping a garden. Being involved in chores also gives children experience of relationship skills like communicating clearly, negotiating, cooperating and working as a team.

When kids contribute to family life, it helps them feel competent and responsible. Even if they don’t enjoy the chore, when they keep going they get the feeling of satisfaction that comes with finishing a task. And sharing housework can also help families work better and reduce family stress. When children help out, chores get done sooner, and parents have less to do. This frees up time for the family to spend doing fun things together.

The secret for involving kids in household chores is asking for contributions that you value and that suit your children’s ages and abilities. A chore that’s too hard for a child can be frustrating – or even dangerous – and one that’s too easy might be boring.

Even a young child can start to help out if you choose activities that are right for his age. You can start with simple jobs like looking after his personal toys. Chores like this send the message to your child that his contribution is important.

It’s also important to think about chores or tasks that get your child involved in caring for the family as a whole. If your child is old enough, you can have a family discussion about chores. This can reinforce the idea that the whole family contributes to how the household runs. Children over six years old can help decide which chores they’d prefer.

You can motivate your child to get involved in chores by doing the chore together until your child is ready to do it on her own, being clear about what each person’s chores are for each day or week – write them down so they’re easy to remember. You can also talk about why it’s great that a particular job has been done and show an interest in how your child has done the job.

Children can help out around the house in many different ways. For example, they can simply go outside to play when the grown-ups need to do big jobs in the house. Some families expect older children to help with younger children – amusing them, distracting them, protecting them and so on. Here are some ideas of chores for children of different ages.

Toddlers (2-3 years)

Pick up toys and books, put clothes on clothes hooks and setting placemats on the dinner table.

Pre-schoolers (4-5 years)

Set the table for meals, help with preparing meals, under supervision. Help put clean clothes into piles for each family member, ready to fold. Help with grocery shopping and putting away groceries and hand you wet clothes to be hung out to dry.

School-age children (6-8 years)

Water the garden and indoor plants, feed pets, clean the bathroom sink, wipe down kitchen benches, mop floors or take out rubbish. Help hang out clothes and fold washing, put away crockery and cutlery, help with choosing meals and shopping. Also help with meal preparation and serving, under supervision.

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