Doing chores is an important part of growing up for children. Cleaning chores not only keep the family home tidy, they teach responsibility.
Make Cleaning Fun
Most kids feel life is a game anyway, so take advantage of this when giving your kids cleaning chores. Have a race to see who puts away toys first. Sing while doing the dishes. Check out the many entertaining “chore apps” now available for computers, tablets, and smart phones. Children do chores more readily when they view them as fun, not drudgery.
Make It Easy and Age Appropriate
Don’t assign impossible cleaning tasks. Match the job to the child’s skills. For example, a two-year-old can pick up her toys but probably won’t understand the concept of sorting laundry into piles of delicate and non-delicate items.
Make It Understandable and Specific
If the groceries go in the refrigerator in a certain way, specify that milk belongs on the top shelf and vegetables go in the crisper when asking a kid to put away food. Be aware that “Clean your room” may mean one thing to you and another to your child. Give clear, specific instructions.
Make Cleaning Schedules and Deadlines
Children like regularity, so set a cleaning schedule for which day your child will dust furniture or vacuum the rugs. Have a chart where kids can check off completed chores and view jobs for the following day. And set deadlines for completion; if you don’t, an hour after you asked your son to make his bed, you’ll find him playing with his toys on the still-rumpled blankets.
Parents can become frustrated about kids doing chores because children are smaller, weaker, and slower. It’s important to be patient. Expect your child to take longer than you would to put away the dishes or cleaning their room. And don’t expect perfection. In cases where perfection is truly essential, you may wish to do the job yourself.
Don’t stand over your children as they work. Join in! If they’re making their beds, go and make yours. This not only ensures the kids will be undistracted by your hovering, it sets a good example.
Finally, reward a job well done. The reward doesn’t have to be money. It can be words—“Great job, Morgan!”—or a gold star on a chart. Resist the urge to criticize, and always give lots of praise.