January 31st, 2011 - Category: Charts
You wouldn’t put a 5-year old behind a lawn-mower. And cleaning their room should be something your older children do without being asked. But when putting a chore chart together, determining the right jobs can be a challenge. Especially if you reward your children for the jobs they do.
Is my child old enough to safely and effectively complete this chore?
Is this chore challenging enough to teach my child responsibility?
Safe and Effective
Because each child varies in maturity level and because boys and girls will develop different skills at different stages…it’s impossible to pinpoint when a child is old enough to wash the dishes, fold the laundry, or cook a meal.
So start out slowly.
One place to begin is with the child’s own possessions. Even a toddler can learn to put their toys away. Young children should be taught clean up their toys, put away their cloths, and feed any pets that may belong to them. Chore charts with pictures and stickers can be used to help track their progress.
As they master their own things, you can next move to risk-free, household tasks. For example, watering the plants is a suitable next step because spilled water won’t hurt anything.
Assigning risk-free chores may take some patience. Sweeping and dusting are risk-free tasks, but the first dozen times your child dusts, you can bet they’ll miss spots. Be willing to spend some time by their side as they learn to effectively clean bathrooms, dust shelves, and sort laundry.
Once you think they’re ready for more demanding chores, frequently test your child’s level of strength, attentiveness, and responsibility. Let your 9 year-old son take a quick turn with the lawnmower under your supervision. If he seems capable, let him try again. If not, wait another year and then make a second attempt. Your 7 year-old daughter may be anxious to help in the kitchen. Try allowing her to make sandwiches, have her crack eggs as you bake, and let her stir the big pot on the stove. Accidents or near accidents may be a sign that she’s not yet ready to be left alone with hot appliances.
By watching your child’s progress carefully, you’ll be able to gage when they’re ready for something new.
But as a word of caution…pushing a child to complete certain chores before they are ready can be dangerous, discouraging, and may leave you with work that needs to be redone. And you’ll be wondering why you even have a chore chart.
Having your children complete chores can certainly take a weight off your already busy schedule. But the benefits of a chore chart far exceed the help you’re receiving. By teaching your children to complete chores, you are preparing them for their future. A son or daughter whose only responsibility growing up is to take out the trash is going to experience a rude awakening when they leave home for the first time.
Learn to challenge your children. Hold them accountable for the work they do. What you’ll find is that most youth thrive on responsibility. Sure, they’re going to whine and complain about having to work, but they’ll feel a greater sense of self-worth as you provide them with opportunities to prove their competence.
If a chore chart is too easy, your children may see it as a nuisance. Let your children see the value they provide in your home by giving them chores they alone can be responsible for. And then reward them accordingly.
More than likely, it’s going to take some time to find that happy balance between pushing your children to do more and making sure the work is done safely and effectively. But keep communication open. Ask your children how they feel and what chores they would like to try. And soon your house will be running smoothly.