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Archive for July, 2011

Do Your Children Work Hard Enough?

July 27th, 2011 - Category: Chores

Recently, an eight-year-old girl returned from her summer vacations. That’s right, vacations. She spent a month with one set of grandparents. Immediately following that trip, she joined her other set of grandparents for two weeks. Then, her parents took their turn by vacationing in California for a week.

Never during those vacations was this girl expected to complete any chores. All laundry, cleaning, meals, and other activities were done for her.

Keep that story in mind as I share an interesting development at one Arizona school district. This particular school has extended the school year from 180 days to 200 days a year. In just one year, the results have been astonishing. Academic achievement has increased as much as 20%. In other words, extra work has led to extra development.

As a parent, you know how important it is for your children to learn the value of work. Unfortunately, vacations, sports, social events and life can get in the way.

Are you doing enough to instill a strong work ethic in your children? Are the chores you expect your children to complete enough to really provide value? By adding just 20 days to a school year, children were able to significantly increase test scores. A little extra effort and looked at what happened academically. What would happen in your family if you were to add a chore or two your chore charts? And, by contrast, what do you think would happen if you were to remove 20 school days. Or…remove chores from your child’s chore chart?

Do you allow vacation time or other interruptions make children exempt from completing chores and being responsible? Whether you’re camping in Yellowstone or riding roller coasters in Disneyland, you can still give your children a chance to work. Even if you’re staying in a hotel, have your children fold their clothes every day. Straighten up the room. Let them clean up their own plates after eating.

The point is…don’t let your child off the hook. No matter what comes up in your life, you can find ways to help your children complete chores or adopt extra responsibility. Giving your children a day off is perfectly fine. But the longer they go without doing anything beneficial, the harder it’s going to be to get back into doing chores. Similarly, if you don’t challenge your children enough, they will be reluctant to work harder when the time comes.

In most situations, extra work brings extra rewards.

Ready to try some extra chores? Be sure to check out if you haven’t already.

Helping Children Pay for Mistakes

July 19th, 2011 - Category: General Parenting

A friend of mine is disabled and so uses a specially modified car to get around. The car includes a hydraulic system that opens the passenger side door and lowers a ramp. That way, this man can easily get in and out of the car in his wheelchair.

The other day, a passenger in the car decided to “test” the ramp. He wanted to see if the ramp would hold his weight as it went up. So he pressed the automated button that lifts the ramp and jumped on. Not only did the ramp break, but the hydraulic system was destroyed as well.

Here’s the thing…the passenger was an adult. An adult who ought to have known better. But in a moment of stupidity, this man did $215 worth of damage. Damage he’ll have to pay for.

Now, as you know, your children are also going to make mistakes. They are going to break things, lose things, and create messes. And sometimes, when those accidents happen, it’s not going to be at your house.

Well, unless you’re a ridiculously generous parent, you’re children won’t have $215 lying around to pay for their mistakes. So how do you help your kids pay for their mistakes when they are financially unable to do so?

Our suggestion is that you do what you can to have them work off the damage. This does not mean that you start putting their allowance toward the mistake. It does not mean that you give extra money for the chores you’re child is already responsible for completing. It means that you give them chores or work above and beyond what they typically complete.

Determine the value of the extra chores you assign your child. And try to find chores that you and your family don’t typically do. Otherwise, you’re going to have cross over between the “work it off” chores and standard chores.

You could…have your son or daughter wash the windows. It’s something most of us only do once or twice a year. Or hire someone else to do. So tally up how much you would pay a professional window washer, and put that amount toward paying off the mistake.

Another idea might include pruning the trees in the yard. Instead of hiring a landscaper or spending your whole weekend working on trees, give that responsibility to your child. Decide what it would have cost you to pay a landscaper and put that money toward the mistake.

If the damage your child has done far exceeds what they would typically do in extra chores, you may consider giving your child a small amount of money for each job they do and then putting the rest toward repairing the damage.

Hopefully, your children never destroy anything. And the only chores they do are the chores they are assigned on a regular basis. But, if adults can make bad choices or make mistakes, you can bet your children will as well.

Don’t mess up your existing chore chart and don’t let your child off the hook. Give them the chance to take responsibility for their own actions.

Your Children Crave Responsibility – Give It to Them

July 12th, 2011 - Category: Kids and Responsibility

Have you ever tried to take a week off? Not on vacation, but just staying at home, doing nothing all day long? It’s kind of nice for a day or two, right? But before long, you start to notice little things:

  • The shelves haven’t been dusted in a few weeks
  • That towel rack in the bathroom is coming loose
  • There’s a growing pile of clothes that need to be mended
  • There’s a broken sprinkler that’s affecting the water pressure

Before you know it, your week off is now a honey-do vacation. You, of your own free will, have just given yourself chores. And how do you feel when the chores are done and you return to work? Fantastic!

The natural instinct of fixing and cleaning that you have is something your children are just starting to develop. They don’t want to sit around either. And although they may whine and make a fuss about doing their chores on a regular basis, they want to feel a sense of accomplishment and responsibility.

Let me give you some examples where I’ve witnessed this lately:

-3 young, homeschooled children had the day off because both their parents had to work. Rather than spend their time playing video games the kids all researched topics that they could teach one another.

-After helping her mother in the garden, a little girl asked if she could plant a garden of her own.

-After their father built a new playhouse, two young kids went to work sweeping the floor and carefully arranging their toys.

Your children crave responsibility. They want to do things that are useful and appreciated. And you can cultivate that characteristic. Give them a chance to be responsible.

If your child informs you that the towel rack in the bathroom is loose – tell him to fix it. If your young child is hungry, encourage her to fix a snack and make enough for all the others in the house. If one of your kids steps on a sharp object in their bedroom, hand them the vacuum.

No, this is not the traditional way of doing chores. But not all chores have to be assigned. In fact, if you’re waiting for all the chores to get done so you have a clean house, you’ll always be waiting for something. Giving your children more responsibility and teaching them to act when something needs doing will develop great characteristics and help you as parents maintain a well-run home.

Summer Activities to Beat the Heat and Get Kids Off the Couch

July 5th, 2011 - Category: Family Time

Summer can be hot. And long. And for kids…a little bit boring. As a parent, you don’t understand boredom. There are always chores that need to be done, food to cook, and jobs to go to. You could fill up an entire year just with the stuff that needs to be done right now. Unfortunately, it’s your kids that have the summer off. Not you. But that doesn’t mean you want your kids sitting around for the next few weeks doing nothing.

Here are some great ideas for getting kids off the couch and even getting them to do extra chores (without realizing it):

Start washing your car – if you put on your bathing suit, your kids will naturally wonder what you’re doing. Tell them to “come see.” Then, while you start hosing down the car, toss them a rag. Most kids love the water, and even if it means washing the car, they won’t be able to resist the temptation. You get a clean car. Your child gets outside for a while. And hey, if a water fight breaks out, it’ll be a great time to bond with your children.

Make popsicles or homemade ice cream – got a bunch of dishes in the sink? Then get your kids in the kitchen to help you clean them up. Entice them by asking if they want to make popsicles or homemade ice cream. Once you’re in the kitchen, you could say, “We’ve got to get these dishes cleaned up so we have room to work.” And with that, your dishes are done and you and the kids have a sweet treat to enjoy.

Play “night games” with the kids – remember when you were young and played Kick the Can or Ghost in the Graveyard? It was a lot of fun for you and it would be great for the kids. Because you play at night, you won’t hear any whining about how hot it is. This is also a good activity to get your yard cleaned up. After all, you’ll tell your kids how dangerous a bike, hose, or skateboard could be in the dark. Soon, the toys in the yard will be back in place. And once you get the kids going, you can always return inside while they continue to have some fun. Just be sure you’ve invited a few friends over to join in.

Clean out the closets and save a few dollars – how many shirts and pants with holes do your kids own? Probably a few, right? After all, clothes do wear out. Suggest turning old, holey pants into shorts and give your kids markets and paints to create their own style. Of course, they’ll need to clean out their entire closet to find all the shirts and pants they’d like to “remake” into summer clothes. Then get them playing outside in their “new” outfits.

Pull out the family photos – if you’re like many families, you have photos on the computer, in a box, and hiding in drawers all over the house. All you have to do is show your kids one or two baby pictures of themselves and they’ll be anxious to look at more. Get them to organize your stash as they go through them. This is a great indoor activity that keeps them cool and away from the T.V. And when they’re done, you’ll be ready to fill the photo albums or get the pictures uploaded to digital albums.

Kids don’t like the word chores. But if they haven’t got anything better to do, they’ll eagerly embrace just about anything. So learn how to engage your kids in activities you want done without mentioning work or chores. You’ll be amazed at how quickly the summer passes and how active your kids can become.