Teaching our children chores, teaches them a lot of things. It teaches them respect for their things as well as respect for those that belong to others. It teaches them a work ethic. It also teaches them to take pride in their accomplishments. A sense of accomplishment leads to higher self-esteem, responsibility, and respect for oneself and others.
But, how do you decide what your children are ready and not ready to do?
Well, at a younger age, we can start by teaching our buggies to pick up after themselves. From throwing a dirty diaper in the trash, putting their dirty clothes in the hamper, and picking up their toys. Many of these things start by showing the child how to do it, by doing it yourself, and bringing your buggy with you. Teaching them where the trash is, where the hamper is, and where the toy box is.
After they know where these things are, every time they do it, should be a big deal. We started teaching our buggies that it was great and fun to throw away their dirty diapers, after we changed them. We started by showing where the yucky diaper goes. Then we would race to the trash can. And the winner receives wonderful compliments, clapping, and anything else that shows them that we are happy and proud of what they did. Each of the family members participate in this, so that now, when Do Bug throws away her diaper, the whole family cheers her on.
We focus a lot, now a days, to use positive ways to discipline our children. Funny thing is, that when we did things when we were younger that were life threatening, or just plain naughty, we got a spanking. Everyone focused on the “bad” part of this, the physical end of a spanking. What we don’t focus on is how each “good” thing was treated just like I’m describing now. With encouragement and reinforcement of the positive behavior. I’m not saying go out and spank your child for every little thing. Fact is, that most of us that got spankings, didn’t get them often. And, if they did, then the spanking lost meaning behind it. Also, that wonderful spanking for beating up your little sister, do seem a bit silly in my book. (Yes, I was the child that got a spanking for that.) However, it did make me think twice about doing it again.
If we took more time on focusing on the things our children did well, and praising them for it, there would be less of a reason to worry about the punishment end. Although it will not take it out entirely, however, that differs from child to child as well. How does this work with chores? If we spent less time being frustrated and upset about how our children did NOT do their chores, and more time praising them for doing those chores, we’d be less frustrated. By praise, I mean exactly that. The reason a child should do their chores should not be solely restricted to monetary value. Same as a spanking, shoving money or toys or other bribing techniques in daily things, leaves them wanting more and expecting more, just because they didn’t leave dirty clothes on the floor.
When I was a little one, we didn’t get allowance, because there were just too many kids to try to do that. However, we all had chores. We did them every day, and we had consequences if we didn’t do them. Which, often, was more chores. At my father’s house it was the dreaded weed pulling in the back garden…it took forever. It was also to be done AFTER we finished our normal chores which could mean pitching the barn, down to the dishes. However, if we wanted to do things, like sports, or go to the movies with our friends, we weren’t dependent on our allowances either. We didn’t get to do these things often, however, we still got to do them. We were rewarded in other ways, adding a new animal or spending time with our friends.
This was all started when we were younger. We didn’t start at 2 and 3 pitching the barn or anything like that. However, it surely was a fun game to go and collect eggs with daddy or go slop the pigs with mommy. Even if slopping the pigs meant getting all dressed up, trying to drag a bucket, and ending up watching our parents do the actual job. We still helped where we could, and were taught through example and encouragement. We sang songs to remind us to clean up our toys and how to work together. And we all participated. We took pride in each thing we did, and now that we’re grown up, it’s our job to teach our children those.
Not everyone grew up the same, and it makes me sad to have to point out that there are more than there should be, that grew up with cruelty and neglect. Because no child should ever have to endure that. However, if you didn’t grow up in a similar way, and you did grow up with cruelty, then you get the opportunity to change that this time around. And, trust me, hearing your two-year old clean up her toys, and sing the clean up song is more than words can describe.
In the past couple of weeks I’ve suggested writing lists, involving your buggies in your chores, and just seeing what they are ready for. Some children need a bit of encouragement. Some just need the right kind of encouragement. My buggies like to do the dishes. Now, they aren’t quite big enough to do them, but they think they do a great job. And, I applaud them the whole way through. I guide them in what they should do, and we take turns on who is going to rinse while mommy washes. It becomes a game, as well as family time. Beanie and Belly Bug now know how to sweep the floor, and they actually fight over who’s turn it is to sweep. So, we switch things up a bit so everyone can get a turn. Also, this teaches team work as well as different skills. In the younger buggies, they love it. The responsibility to clean up their bathroom makes them empowered to do it more on their own. Which means less time I have to spend on my hands and knees cleaning up who knows what next.
After you’ve spent some time figuring out what your buggies can do and like to do, THEN come up with a chore chart. Work things around, for what works for you. We still hold toys hostage, for when they are just not in the mood to take care of their things. However, they have the opportunity to get it back with good behavior. Explaining all of the rules on how to do chores all the way to what will happen if they do not do their chores is very important. This helps keep even the busiest buggy well-informed of their consequences. The trick is to stick with it. It isn’t easy to start off, especially if you are going from no responsibility to a full 180 into chores and the like. It takes time to work chores into their schedule. But the refocusing helps tremendously.
What are some of your ideas for chores? Leave me a comment below to let me know how you’ve worked chores in with your buggies.