Helping Around The House
Starting Your Child On Chores
By Lily Morgan
Chores are something every child dreads doing. How many TV sitcoms have you seen with a parent hounding a child to do his chores? While this scenario is played repeatedly with older children in houses across the globe, smaller children actually enjoy helping out around the house. But when is it time to introduce a few household chores to your child, and what tasks can a toddler or preschooler accomplish?
You can start educating children about chores as soon as your child is able to follow simple directions. As you start feeding your baby table food, you can have him pick up food from his tray and put it back in his bowl. This enforces the idea that he has to pick up his messes. Be sure to praise him for his efforts, even if he ends up making more of a mess than he started with. The point is that he is trying to help, and he needs praise for that.
Toddlers can help mom or dad set the table. Give your child unbreakable items to take to the table, like silverware and napkins. While he may not get the items in their perfect location, he will gain a sense of accomplishment from helping. At the end of the meal, have an item or two that the child is responsible for putting away. Many kids enjoy putting their milk or juice cup in the refrigerator when the meal is done. This enforces the idea that they do not jump up from the dinner table without helping with the clean up.
Another task a very small child can do is bringing in the mail. While you will have to get the mail out of the mailbox physically, you can hand it to your toddler to carry inside. Again, she will feel great accomplishment from helping. Be sure to teach her the importance of not opening other people’s mail.
Children who have pets at home can help with care of the animals. Toddlers can bring pet dishes to mom or dad to be filled when it is mealtime. Older preschoolers can fill the bowls or feed smaller pets themselves. Because large pets like dogs often get excited around food, an adult should always be present at feeding time.
The most important thing to remember when introducing your child to chores is that praise is the best way to reinforce the idea that helping is fun. Instead of hounding your child to do what you want her to do, praise her when she does it.
Should you reward your child for doing chores in other ways? You may want to avoid giving tangible prizes to your children for doing chores every single time. This fosters the belief that children are only doing the chore because they get something for it.
A system of rewards can be set up where the children earn points for doing chores willingly, and the points are turned in for rewards. This teaches children the value of hard work, and the fact that sometimes the reward for their efforts comes a little later. With these suggestions, you can help your children develop a sense of accomplishment, pride, and belonging in your family by introducing them to the world of chores in a positive, uplifting way.
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