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Posted: Thu Feb 24, 2005 5:25 pm Post subject: chores and children

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i am working on a column for later in the year and i would like input on children and chores. that is, what responsibilities should they have at what ages. what are some of the methods that are used, and special tips you might want to add.
--dr moore

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tim
Guest

Posted: Mon Feb 28, 2005 4:12 pm Post subject: chores and kids

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start early

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mariaw

Joined: 06 Jun 2005
Posts: 2
Location: central Texas
Posted: Mon Jun 06, 2005 4:07 am Post subject:

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I am by no means an expert, but I do consider myself pretty knowledgable in this area...I have 4 children at home and 2 step-daughters...and have tried lots of different things to find what works for mine. I think a lot of parents just don't know what kids are capable of doing and don't take the time to find out...and also don't realize that most kids enjoy doing things and are proud of themselves when they're given the opportunity to complete a task. Yes, they're going to complain a little sometimes, but if you could get the child to be honest you just might be surprised what you'd hear. Coming from a family where I wasn't expected to do a lot, I know the other side. My parents gave us a few chores...very minor...but didn't make a big deal out of it. I decided long ago that I would differ from my parents in this area. I wish that my parents had put an emphasis on chores and had not given me so many freedoms. I started out with my oldest (who is just letting her do things around the house with me...she started picking up on things at an early age...such as making her own bed at the age of 3 without being told and to this day she does not leave her room without making her bed first thing in the morning...not because I make her, but because it has become a habit. Now, my youngest who is 2 is starting to do the same thing...I watch her straighten her blankets and pillow on her toddler bed in the mornings...tell me why this is so hard for some adults, please! My children have chores they have to do and are expected to do so without being reminded too much, if any, to do them. Yes, all children are different and I have one (a red-headed 5 yr old girl) that sometimes needs a little more prompting and complains a little more, but she does them! If you make it a part of the daily routine then it really doesn't seem like a big deal to them. My toddlers know that when they're done with their dishes they go in the sink...and they'll do that without being reminded...because I made it a habit for them.

So what kind of chores do they do? Well, the oldest is responsible for loading and unloading the dishwasher every day. Now I'm not unreasonable...I keep the dishes loaded throughout the day(when she is at school), but the supper dishes she helps out quite a bit with. I will do a lot of the big things that take extra care (pots, heavy glass bowls, sticky lasagne pans, etc) I will rinse them for her if I think she might have a hard time or wash them by hand if they're not something I run in the dishwasher and she will either place them in the dishwasher or dry them off and put them away. The things that go in the higher cabinets that she cannot reach she sets on the countertop and I come along behind her and put them away. She is also responsible for wiping down the countertops, appliances, etc.

The 5 yr. old is responsible for wiping the table off after meals and what we call dressing the table (putting the table cloth and centerpiece back on)...the name alone makes it fun for her. I'll say "now don't forget to dress the table) and she'll giggle and put everything back like it was. (She is also responsible for undressing it. (having 4 kids at the table I remove the table cloth before meals...cuts down on fading and wear from washing 3 times a day from spills) But believe it or not my child who likes chores the least enjoys doing the two most commonly dreaded chores...cleaning the bathroom and taking out the garbage. Now she doesn't take the garbage out on a daily basis and isn't required to do so but, if she notices that it is full she'll ask if she can. (They're are responsible for pulling the empty trash cans up to the house after being emptied on trash day...with mom wathcing of course.) But the bathroom has become part of her Saturday morning routine...yes a 5 yr. old is capable of cleaning a toilet. I use the new flushable toilet scrubbers so she kind of likes that, she uses the Lysol wipes to wipe off the toilet seat, faucets, edge of bathtub, counters, etc. I have found that kids like to use spray cleaners a little too much and was so happy when they came out with these wonderful disenfectant wipes!

While the younger one is cleaning the bathroom, the 8 yr old is dusting and polishing the furniture which is also fun for them. And no, mom's not sitting on her tail end watching tv and giving orders...even though they are doing the majority of the work I find myself going back and forth assisting or giving pointers. All the while the Oldies station is playing in the background and everyone has a smile on their face, for the most part.

My two younger children (my son who is 3 and my 2 yr old daughter) like to do what they can. They "clean" their room...they know where everything goes and are pretty good about keeping things there. That's the important thing with kids and their rooms...give everything a place and make sure the child understands just what goes where...with reminders they'll get it down eventually. Now again, mom comes through once or twice a day (in between them playing in there) and tidies up...but honestly...you'd be surprised just how good of a job they can do! And they're so proud of themselves afterward!!! I also give them a dry rag while everyone else is cleaning and they walk around looking for things they can wipe off.

My oldest daughter also is expected to sweep the kitchen and dining room and occasionally vacuums the living areas. Mom or dad does it in between times to give a good cleaning but, for a quick run through she does a fine job.

Laundry...they, of course, are responsible for emptying their laundry basket daily (which by the way they have to put their clothes in after taking them off) and have to put their own clothes away. They're just learning to fold clothes...mommy's a little particular on things like towels,etc. so I'm trying to teach them my tricks. Just in the last few weeks have I really put much emphasis on teaching them to fold. But hanging clothes on the other hand, are easier to do and they've been helping out with hanging their own clothes for a while. They also help out with folding the socks if they happen to be around when I take the clothes out of the dryer. Their clothes are divided into their own stacks when I fold them and are placed on the dryer for them to come get and put away. I also have a hanging rack in the laundry room and those are also grouped according to who they belong to...makes it easier for them to grab and put away. My two youngest even help put their clothes away. They're standing right there with the older ones with their little arms out waiting to be handed their stack. Now, they still need a little assistance with this but not much. They actually get offended if I don't hand them anything. I'm sure if they could reach the bars in their closet they would attempt the hanging clothes too.

An important thing to remember with kids is praise...positive reinforcement. They'll do more if they know they're doing a good job. Children get easily discouraged so, if they feel like they're not doing something right they tend to give up and won't want to try again. Even if mine don't do the best job (I keep in mind their age) I still praise them for effort. At the same time, I reprimand for NOT doing them. You can reward children in so many ways...verbally, monetarily, physically (with a big hug and/or kiss), etc. Every family's budget and personal feelings towards allowances are different so this is something that needs to be considered. With 6 kids and me being a stay at home mom and full time student our budget is probabl a little more limited than some so I can't afford a large allowance every week. They each start out the week with 5 paper dollars they they helped create...these are kept in little paper pockets they also helped make and are posted on the bulletin board where they can reach. When they have to be reprimanded in some way for not doing a chore after being reminded or for bad behavior (which is another topic itself) then they have to give up one of their dollars...these are placed in a jar that is kept on the kitchen counter. If for some reason they lose more than two dollars in one day then not only do they lose the money but they are grounded from something from that point in the day and the following day (this has only happened once or twice). Now the other incentive here is that the one that goes all week without losing any of her dollars gets not only her $5 but the ones that are in the jar, too (a lot of weeks there aren't any). So big sister might get $8 one week and little sister only gets $2. May not seem fair, but it works...little sister hates it when big sister gets her money! AND if/when they go 6 weeks in a row without losing a dollar they get a special treat...which also varies. Don't ask me what happens when they lose more than their 5 dollars in one week...luckily that's never happened.

So, I've shared with you what we do in our house and what seems to be most affective and appropriate. We've done charts and stickers (getting a dime for each sticker you earn), chore lists, etc and those are good things too. The chars and lists just aren't necessary for us anymore. They know what is expected of them and they usually do it...maybe a reminder here and there but I don't have too many problems getting them to do it. I didn't focus too much on their bedrooms I guess because that is a given around here...the older girls are expected to keep their room neat and tidy, closet in order, books on the bookshelf straight, things picked up off the floor- oh and vacuuming and dusing once a week...I don't do much in their rooms. Oh and the little ones are good at helping unload the dishwasher. I used to fuss over and over at them telling them to stay out of it but finally gave in and when they show an interest I let them help with the things that are safe for them to handle...telling them to hand mommy this or that (i do occasionally unload it ). And putting away groceries...they love to help with that. Toddlers like to be a part of whatever it is mommy or daddy is doing...so why wear yourself out saying no...find things they can do. They'll enjoy it and keep theirselves out of trouble for a few minutes.

Well, I'm sure I may have given some of you more than you care to know, but hey...you asked!

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doc
Guest

Posted: Tue Jun 07, 2005 4:27 am Post subject: wow, thats alot of chores!

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wow, that is a superb summary! and what an example you must set for you children!

thank you for those thorough thoughts

doc

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