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Monday, April 16, 2012

Children and Chores: How to Ensure Responsibility (A guest post)

Although the majority of young children would probably enjoy an easy home life filled with nothing but fun and games, all kids need to learn that responsibility and expectations are not exclusive to the confines of the classroom only. Setting some simple tasks for a child to complete daily/each week on behalf of the family unit then, is advisable.

However, this is easier said than done since it is common to hear “Not now, Mum!” or “I’ll do it later!” any time a child is asked to help out around the house. This is why you should make it clear from the beginning which chores a child is responsible for – any requests made outside of those they have been made chief off will likely receive the “That’s not MY job!” response.

Routine is imperative for ensuring chore completion, as is occasionally rewarding a child who does what is asked of them without fuss.

Coax Chore Completion: Rewards, not Bribery!
The way in which you coax your little ones into sharing the responsibility of home chores often depends on the kids in question and their individual personalities.

A friend of mine swears by the use of a points chart. Each of her kids has a list of set tasks they are responsible for each day/week printed on a dry-erase board that is prominently displayed on the kitchen wall. The kids all start with 50 points for the month. If they perform a task without asking, they earn two points but if they need to be reminded, they only earn one point. If they do not do a task at all, then five points gets deducted from their running tally. Any child that has 100 points or more by the close of each month gets a prize of their choice (up to the value of £5).

I tried this with my kids for two months and I must sadly admit that it was a complete disaster! While they were excited and keen at the launch of the chores-board, they quickly grew bored with the notion and were losing points at lightning speed as a result. I decided this method wasn’t worth the trouble and moved on to a less organised, but just as effective system…

My own family adheres to a reward and punishment system for the completion/non-completion of household chores – we just don’t implement a chart. Each one of my kids needs to clear their plate of food and load their plates and cutlery into the dishwasher after each meal. If they do not, they lose a privilege. They may be banned from watching the double bill of The Simpsons which is airing on TV later that evening, or be denied access to the family Wii console for a week. A ban from the beloved garden swings is another punishment my two youngest try their very best to avoid.

My teenage daughter is also required to fold and put away her clean laundry twice a week. If her clothes sit in the basket for more than a day, she’ll also lose a privilege such as being allowed to wear mascara to high school and/or go to the cinema with her mates at the weekend.

Any of my four children that complete the tasks set out for them will earn their monthly allowance of £10. I have rarely had to deny one of my children this pocket money but that does not mean defiance has not found its way into our home at times. There have been a number of instances in which one child has had to watch his/her siblings enjoy their money while they have received nothing, due to their previous non-cooperation.

Not getting rewarded can be a hard lesson for a kid to learn but a valuable one too since it helps to teach the life lesson of responsibility, as well as establishing the ideology that there is a consequence for every action.

The author of this guest blog – Kat Black – works on behalf of Climbing Frames UK.

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