Posted , updated Dec 08, 2008.
Letting children help with chores takes lots of adult supervision and patience, but most parents believe that youngsters benefit from the responsibility. In fact, some parents expect their children to know what to do or how to do it without any instruction. They assume the child has seen chores being completed and must know how.
This isn’t always the case. Here are some ideas to help you:
When starting a new task, children need to watch you and help you. You can work side by side, simply explaining the task. Youngsters will want you right there for direction and moral support. Soon it will shift from them helping you, to you providing a little help to them.
Next children will have the knowledge they need to complete the task, but may forget something or need a reminder that it’s their turn.
You may reach a stage when the child not only does the job, but also does it with no reminding. It’s important to remember it takes years—not days or weeks for a child to move from helping you with a task to doing it alone without any reminding.
What are your expectations?
Make it easy.
Give your child choices.
Make the job important.
Don’t do the job over.
Don’t hover – unless safety is an issue.
The “new” wears off.
Let them savor the moment!
To Nag or Not to Nag
Getting children to complete chores can easily turn into a battle of ignoring and nagging. The message underlying nagging is, “I don’t trust you to remember”. It is ineffective for encouraging cooperation.
Parents tend to get into the habit of nagging when children act as if they haven’t heard you, or when they feel a reasonable time has elapsed to complete the job that remains undone.Parents can find themselves spouting orders and feeling like a drill sergeant, or falling into other negative patterns such as blaming, threatening, lecturing, or name calling.
Finding out if your child heard you can keep you from entering the nagging cycle. Ask, “Would you tell me what I just said?” This allows you to further clarify your expectations about how and when the task is to be completed.
Faber and Mazlish* outline these skills:
Your tone or attitude can defeat your methods. Children are very sensitive to the attitude you communicate. Using various strategies can help you gain more self-control and speak to what is best in your children—their intelligence, sense of responsibility, helpfulness.
Acknowledging emotions can help a child feel understood and more cooperative. Children can feel manipulated by a strategy when their feelings are disregarded or the relationship is reduced to a formula (I say this, now you respond).
Building time to enjoy each other can keep a relationship strong. Research indicates that positive experiences with parents enable children to better handle stress and negative emotions.
These components can help us nurture an emotional atmosphere where cooperation can grow and flourish.
*Source: A. Faber, E. Mazlish. How To Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk, 1980.
See also: Children and Chores: The Basics
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