Do you want to prevent your children from giving you a heap of trouble when you ask them to help around the house? Even better, do you want your children to notice things around the house that need to be done, and just do them?!!! Start them early!
1. Young children love to help!
Early on, it doesn’t tend to matter if it’s cleaning the toilet, raking leaves or baking, kids want to try too! I know, it takes longer, but have fun with it! Give them a rag or a rake and let’s go! (Be sure you are not exposing them to harsh chemicals via sprays and other cleaners. Thieves Cleaner is an excellent options and it cleans pretty much everything in your house!)
2. Teaches siblings to work together, either directly or side-by-side!
Again, when you start them early, regardless of the age span, when your expectation is that they treat each other kindly and with respect, more often than not, they will do so, and have fun doing so. Some say “cousins are first best friends.” Well, siblings can be first and forever best friends when parents create an atmosphere of playing hard and working hard.
3. Provides an INTRINSIC reward!
Extrinsic rewards are things like, a dollar for doing a good job, or a trip to the toy store to pick out a toy. The intrinsic rewards are the ones that come from within the child. Intrinsic rewards are the good feelings that one gets from a job well done, i.e. “I did it!” “My dad gave me some instructions and I added my own ideas to make it an even greater success!” “We all worked together and got a big job done!” Extrinsic rewards will have the parents working hard, always, to convince the child that they will give them a big enough reward in exchange to do a chore, or their homework, or help out in any way.
4. Gets the job done!
Let’s face it, it’s a lot of work and they slow us down a great deal in the beginning learning process, but having a 13 and 18 year old in the house currently, I can tell you that they take a big load off for my husband and I! When you take the time early and keep at it, you will have productive older children and these older children are even likely to keep coming back after they leave the nest to see if they can lend you a hand. Sweet, right?!
5. Establishes a routine and expectation!
Children learn over time that we work together as a family and meet the needs of the family together. Everyone takes part. So often, parents are running around doing everything while their children are occupied on their electronic device, you know, the one you GAVE them. They go from begging the parent to hurrying up so they can do the fun thing the parent promised to do after the work, to not wanting the parent to be ready so they can spend more time on the electronic device. This is a dangerous precedent that tends to go along with children feeling and behaving in a self-centered, entitled and even helpless manner.
6. Teaches children to feel confident!
Erik Erikson, one of our founding personality theory psychologists talks about this in his 4th stage of development and it happens between the ages of 5 and 12. He calls it Industry vs. Inferiority. It has to do with children learning skills, which leads to feeling industrious (competent) and confident in their abilities. Without it, children tend to feel inferior and doubtful about themselves and their place in their peer group, family group and on their own. When children feel inferior, they tend to not try. They tend to lack confidence and experience worry, anxiety, depression.
7. Outdoor chores bring with them all of the healthy and even healing aspects of the outdoors!
Fresh air, the smell of leaves, grass, flowers, the warm feelings on your cheeks in warm weather and the cold cheeks of fall and winter will be sensations that get logged in the emotional center of the brain, forever! The vitamin D from the sun will also be a great benefit.
8. Teaches Executive Functioning Skills!
The buzz words in my field over the last few years are, “Executive Functioning Disorder.” “My child has EFD.” How fair is it to tag a child with a label and even qualify them for medication and special services when we have never taught them or expected them to do things like rake the leaves, wake up to their own alarm clock, get their own backpack ready. Busy parents are running around like crazy trying to get everything done in short order, while their child gets a few extra winks of sleep, takes a little longer with their breakfast or playing their video game. Teaching children how to organize a task like raking leaves will have value beyond any special ed plan that the school will devise for your child.
9. Gives them a heart for helping!
These are children who notice that the teacher might need help passing out papers or putting chairs up. They are young people who will notice the lady struggling to her car with her hands full. They will think to ask if Grandma and Grandpa might need help with their Fall clean-up.
10. Instills a “can-do” attitude!
Your child will be unstoppable when they have skills. How to organize the leaf raking involves many steps and as they grow, develop and experience, they will find their own way, and that way may even be better than your way.
You child needs you to be a strong minded parent who has expectations, teaching ability, patience and also a willingness to look at the destructive nature of passive entertainment, extrinsic rewards and laziness. Your little person is going to be a big person all too soon and it’s easier to raise them up well than to rebuild them later, or even worse, to have them be dependent on you into their 30s.
Note: The boy in the above picture had been working diligently while singing, “I’m Henery the Eighth, I Am” and frankly, we needed a break from it, so we told him to take a break.
Should you exchange money for chores? Stay tuned for more next week!
To stay connected, parent to parent and parent to professional, contact Tracy Lamperti, LMHC, below.