The Key to Getting Kids To Do Chores, by Melissa
Widespread media reports of our spoiled and entitled kids have been making me nervous. So nervous that on weekends, I decided to hand over all kitchen clean-up duties to my three boys aged 6, 8 and 9.
Initially this delegation was met with tears, protests and slammed doors. But now, several months in, they’ve settled into their clean-up duties. Here’s what worked for us:
1) Take the Chores Out of Chores. I tried to make chores not about chores but rather about helping others. I explained post-lunch on Saturdays and Sundays that Mommy was simply too tired to clean the whole kitchen and that I needed help.
2) Join the Team. Next up for me was actually getting in there and doing the activities with my boys. Now, this is just stage one. I hope to embrace the tenets of Free-Range parenting soon by having them figure out their own ways of doing chores, but it’s a process. I found that when I fully handed over the reins (since they’re still quite young) that they would argue about who did what. You may think that my joining in was a cop-out and quintessential helicopter parenting, but for us it worked. They were willing to work most of the time. I stood as the team leader and laid out a strategy: “Hedley, you’re on washing, Lachie, you’re drying, Beckett, you’re sweeping, and I’m the one putting all of it away.” Not feeling isolated, bored or punished, my boys frequently finished our kitchen in under 15 minutes, whereas it usually takes me at least 30 minutes. Now I know why people had so many kids in the olden days. They can actually work!
3) Sincere Gratitude. I thanked my boys lavishly and I explained how they helped the whole family. Compare this to my prior strategy of saying “this is your job, do it,” which was a complete non-starter.
4) Makes Chores a Game. Turning cleaning the kitchen into a competition worked wonders. “Guys, we’re 10 minutes down, let’s finish in under 5 and beat our prior time.” With that said, they plunged in with gusto.
5) Make post-chore time free time. Doling out special free time is the way to go.
The holidays this year came with a lot of dishes to be done. It wasn’t perfect, but I was just happy this year that my husband and I weren’t the only ones cleaning up. Not only did I worry less about my kids being spoiled and entitled, but I had fewer dishes to do! – M