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Archive for November, 2011

Making Chore Charts Fair

November 30th, 2011 - Category: Charts

Life isn’t fair. It’s the lesson you’ve been trying to get your kids to understand for years. But no matter how many times you say it, your children will still expect fairness. It’s almost a disease among young kids – to expect the world to deal with everyone equally.

However, as a parent, you probably do want things to be as fair as possible for your kids. You’d hate to have your children feel they’re getting the short end of the stick. You want them to feel like home is a safe and welcoming place to be.

Now on to the difficult topics. No child really wants to do chores. They only do chores to earn their allowance (or avoid getting in trouble). Even knowing there will always be chores, your child will complain at times. And the last thing you want to hear from your child is: those chores aren’t fair. So here are some ideas to make sure chores stay fair and your children don’t have that excuse to stand on.

Don’t ask them to do anything personal. A friend of mine grew up with the following chores on her chore chart: clean master bathroom, vacuum office, wash and fold all the laundry. In other words, this friend was expected to clean up after her parents. The parents reasoned that they worked all day so the children could surely take care of these additional chores. My friend always resented cleaning up after the “adults”.

Reward them for their efforts. If it’s on the chore chart, then make sure your children are rewarded for it in some way. If you have chores on the chore chart that don’t help the child in some way, reconsider it. Having your children do chores for “free” (unless it’s cleaning their room or doing something similarly personal) is not fair.

Switch things up. If you have more than one child, you’ve got to switch the chores around. Otherwise, you’re going to hear phrases like, “I always have to wash the toilets. It’s not fair.” And that’s true. Unless your children share all the chores, someone will always get stuck with a more difficult lot.

Chip in when things are exceptionally different. After a big event (like Thanksgiving dinner), you need to take kitchen clean-up off the chore chart. That’s simply not fair to the child whose turn it is to keep the kitchen clean. The same idea holds for mowing the lawn after being on vacation for two weeks or doing chores while you have guests in town. Chores should be adjusted according to the circumstances in your house. And chip in when you need to.

If only the world were fair, you wouldn’t even have to create a chore chart. Your children would simply do what needed to be done. But until your children are grown, fairness has to be according to their terms. If you want your home to run smoothly, you need to keep your chore chart as fair as possible.

Critical Lessons to Teach Your Children

November 24th, 2011 - Category: General Parenting

Last night I had a dream. I dreamed that I was the cashier of a buffet-style school cafeteria. The children who came to the cafeteria had to pay just thirty cents for their meal. Now, in the dream, most the children didn’t have the money. They would approach me with a dime they had found in the streets or three pennies they had been saving.

I woke up before I learned whether or not I admitted the hungry children to pass. But the dream got me thinking. Then, on a television show later in the day, I learned that 1 in 4 children in America don’t know where their next meal is going to come from.

As a parent, I’m grateful for the ability to provide for my children. I’m grateful my children have never gone to bed hungry or cold. I hope I can be a safe resource for them no matter how old they get. But I also hope my children learn to care for themselves and their own families. I don’t want my grandchildren to ever experience hunger. And I think, if I teach them the right lessons now, my children will be able to live comfortably with their own families.

Remember, I’m just a parent like you, but here are the lessons I believe parents should teach their children:


To work. This should be a given…that we teach our children how to work. But more and more I see teenagers who were never expected to clean their bedrooms or make a meal. You can bet they’ve never found their name on a chore chart.

Now, in most cases, the parents of these kids are able to provide their kids with every needed comfort. But what if they couldn’t? And do they plan on supporting their children forever? Teaching a child how to work, giving them a list of chores to do, is important for helping them learn how to succeed.

To be grateful. Doesn’t work (and for your children, chores) seem to go a lot easier when you are a grateful individual. Rather than lament about the things we don’t have, teach your children to be grateful, to take care of their possessions, and to contribute to your family.

Feeling grateful instead of having feelings of entitlement will help your children to be more responsible with money, buy things they can afford, and be happy whether they are driving around in a used car or new car. Help your children learn gratitude by reinforcing how fortunate they are and frequently expressing gratitude for the things you have.

To be charitable. The bottom line is…children are going to bed hungry at night. As a society, we have an obligation to help when we can. Especially because you never know when you or your children may need the charity of someone else.

With, children can choose charities to donate to. Each of the charities we have listed is there because we believed in their cause. The more we do for others, the more that comes back to ourselves.

The holidays are coming and it’s an easy time to ignore chores or to dismiss your children from completing them. But these three lessons need to be reinforced as often as possible. Plus, the holidays are a great time to help your children with gratitude and reinforce the value of work.

My children are going to make their own decisions about where they end up in life. But what I can do for them is prepare them for the future. Give them the comforts of life now and make sure they have all the skills they need to take care of their own future.

Can You Teach Your Children Gratitude?

November 16th, 2011 - Category: Behavior Advice

Every parent wants their children to be grateful. After all, grateful children are a lot easier to please, tend to be more helpful, and are more pleasant to be around. But how do you teach children gratitude? Or is it something they just have to learn for themselves?

The other day we overheard a conversation between a mother and daughter. The daughter asked her mom for a new toy. When the mom said no, the daughter started making a fuss. Expected, right? Most kids make a fuss. But it was the mother’s reaction that surprised us. She smacked her daughter on the hand and said, “Be grateful for what you’ve got.”

Now, we may not be the experts, but we hardly think telling a child to be grateful – at a moment they are feeling disappointed – is the best way to handle the situation.

Here are some ideas we’ve come up with for teaching children to be more grateful:

1) Make them work for what they want. We can all accept the idea that if we’re given everything, we’ll never learn to appreciate it. Doing chores and taking part in family responsibilities goes a long way in helping children realize that not everything in life comes easily. And if you have your children earn their own money, toys, or other rewards through helping with chores, they’ll learn to appreciate both the chance to the work and the things they buy.

2) Show them how lucky they are. If you’ve ever gone to a homeless shelter, hospital, or government-sponsored after school program, then you’ve seen people who are in some pretty tough circumstances. Now, unless you’re totally heartless, you wanted to help. Why not have your children round up some old toys or clothes and then go with you to donate them? The gratitude of the receivers should help your children feel more grateful for their own circumstances.

3) Encourage/insist they donate. If you’ve been using, then you know children can donate some of their earnings to worthy causes (like Operation Smile). You could set up charity as a requirement and then encourage your child to research what charity they might like to donate to. Or, give them the option of donating their time at special events or service projects.

4) Reinforce the feeling once they experience it. Let’s say your child is saving their allowance to buy a basketball. But then, on their birthday, grandma brings a basketball as a present. As soon as your child realizes he no longer has to use his chore money to buy a basketball, talk to him about it. Say things like, “Isn’t that great that you can have a basketball and still keep your own money?”

5) Tell them how grateful you are. Even if you have assigned your children chores, thank them frequently for getting the chores done. Mention your appreciation when a neighbor or friend does something nice for you. If you’re a person of faith, let your children see you pray and express gratitude. Children learn by example.

Gratitude is not a trait you can force on someone. And unlike learning how to cook or clean or become financially responsible, gratitude isn’t something you can just learn one day. As a parent, it is your responsibility to encourage your children to learn positive traits. We think the five listed above will help. In what other ways can you help your children develop gratitude? Feel free to comment below.

What To Do With All That Halloween Candy

November 1st, 2011 - Category: General Parenting

Pillowcases. Your children have brought home pillowcases of candy. And now you’ve got to figure out what to do with it. As a good parent you don’t want them eating whatever they want when they want. On the other hand, they’ve worked hard to get that candy and Halloween only comes around once a year.

So how do you find the middle ground between letting them make their own choices and helping them retain self-control?

“Tricks” to Try…

Sometimes parents have to be tricky about the way they handle things. You don’t want to get into power-struggles or arguments with your kids. That doesn’t mean you have to give in to what they want. Simply avoid the situation altogether. Here’s how:

-Encourage the sorting of candy. Think back to when you were out trick or treating. You loaded up your bag and then hurried home to sort the good candy from the not-so-good candy. If you encourage this behavior in your child, it stops them from immediately digging into that huge lot of sugar.

-Load them up on their favorite dinner. Somehow, you’ve got to combat the sugar your kids will be eating. Why not prepare their favorite meal on Halloween night – before they head out for empty calories? Hopefully they’ll load up on good food and eat only a minimal amount of junk.

-Ask them to share. With an entire bag of candy, your child is not likely to turn you down if you ask for a sample. Ask as often as you think about it and slowly you’ll help diminish that pile. Whether you eat what you take or not is up to you.

Talk About It…

-Suggest your child make it last. You’ve been teaching your children responsibility with chores and money. Why not share the same techniques with treats. Encourage your child to eat only a few pieces each day. That way they have something sweet every day for several weeks instead of just a few days.

-Control the distribution. You’re not a bad parent if you confiscate the candy. If you have smaller kids, this is not the time to just give them what they want. Sure, they earned the candy. And you don’t have to be a candy warden. Just tell your kids they have to ask if they want a piece. Give it to them when they want it, but chances are they’re going to forget its there.

Is candy something to argue about? Even one day a year? Absolutely. If you’ve worked hard to help your child develop good habits, you don’t want those broken just because it’s a holiday. And too much sugar can have some serious affects on your child – even if they only eat too much on occasion.

Whatever you do, find a way to make the Halloween holiday an enjoyable one for sugar-hungry children and yourself.