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Yes, Your Kids Actually Want Chores. and Here’s Why.

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Dr. Meg Meeker

With this type of change comes the urge to purge. Spring cleaning season is upon us and after holing up for an entire year, we probably have a good amount of cleaning to do.

This year, instead of simply cleaning the baseboard sand organizing your closets, what if you got your kids involved? Spring cleaning is an excellent opportunity to teach your kids about chores, housework and their value. In fact, kids like to be included in this type of work. It makes them feel like a valuable contributor to the family.

Katherine Reynolds Lewis, author of The Good News About Bad Behavior, says that when kids aren’t asked to contribute to their family, neighborhood or community, “that really erodes their sense of self-worth — just as it would with an adult being unemployed.”

In addition to this, chores and work help teach your child self-control and self-discipline—both of these are important characteristics to have as an adult.

After a year of quarantine, you may be wary of this. Your child’s behavior has been erratic, they’re tired of listening to you, they’re having serious behavioral issues, which is to be expected if your child has been cooped up for too long and doing online school, rather than out and about with his friends. But this doesn’t mean your child has to miss out on the valuable lesson chores can teach him.

If you want your child to participate more with household chores, here are a few tips from a conversation I had with my friend Rachel Cruz that will get him involved and even enjoying the work.

Reward them for their work.

Growing up with Dave Ramsey as her father, Rachel says she received a “commission” for her chores—an allowance that she could use however she wanted, as long as she did her chores.

We all know kids need incentives. They are not mature enough to know the long-term benefits of doing chores. They need something in the here-and-now to encourage them. Lay out a reward system for your child when he does his chores. Whether it’s a commission, ice cream, an outing to his favorite arcade, make sure it’s something that will motive him enough to complete the task and feel rewarded when he’s done.

Stick to the consequences.

Just like you have to lay out a clear reward system for your child to do her chores, you also need to lay out clear consequences for when she doesn’t complete them. No work? No money, or video game time or whatever her reward is.

This is where parents fall down. They don’t want to implement consequences because it so often results in a temper tantrum or simply requires energy you probably don’t have at the end of the day. But sticking to the consequences is so important because if you show your child that you’re not serious about the consequences, she won’t do her chores. She will quickly figure out that she will still eventually get her reward anyway, so why put in the work?

Tell your child what the consequences will be if she doesn’t complete her chores, then stick to them.

Don’t let your child argue with you.

When kids don’t want to do their chores, they draw you into an argument. They argue about why they should have to do their chores or when they should do them. Parents, the argument is a trap. Don’t fall into it. When your child starts arguing with you, he’s stalling. He’s trying to get out of doing the work.

Never argue with your child. Depersonalize it. Simply say, “I’m the one who makes the list of chores and if you do your chores, this is what you get. And if you don’t do them, this is what the consequence will be.”

Don’t assume all of the responsibilities of Spring Cleaning this year. With this new wind sweeping through our country, make it a new day in your home, one where the whole family chips in for the big spring clean and in the process, your kids learn the value of hard work and their own value as a contributor to the family.

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