Parenting Coach, Kim DeMarchi chatted with Kara Mack about ways to get your kids to do their chores. Click here for more information about Kim.
Question 1. Why do children even need to do chores?
Answer: It would be soooo much easier to just do them! 4 reasons:
1. the functionality of a family- there is just too much work to do with only 1 or 2 parents doing all the work. AND, if the room is picked up, you can find your homework folder or if the laundry is done, you can find your soccer uniform.
2. it builds competence - by learning how to do certain tasks (Parenting with the End in Mind)
3. it helps develop character traits- taking ownership for getting things done, developing an internal sense of accountability and responsibility
4. increases a sense of family cohesiveness and closeness- we are all in service to each other. I'm not the parent doormat, here to serve the royal children. And the opposite is true too....they are not my little Cinderella's. We all contribute in our family because we are a family. The WE vs. ME mentality. The BEST part of this for me is they have an appreciation for all that I do and don't take me for granted. For example, instead of me lecturing them on how much work it is to do laundry, they know firsthand. And when they are busy with homework and sports, I might surprise them and fold their laundry for them and leave it in their room. They'll say, "Oh, thanks so much for folding my laundry mom!" Last night at the end of dinner, I was saying I needed to get out the door because I had a client. We all usually rinse and load our own dishes, and I noticed Riley had done mine, along with hers. I expressed my gratitude to her!
Question 2. Should we be calling "chores" a different name?
Answer: Sometimes I think we should strike the word "chore" from our vocabulary - it's so negative and puts children on the defense. How about: Responsibilities, Jobs, Duties? My kids have more pride and ownership since we call them responsibilities.
Question 3. What do parents usually do when their kids are NOT doing what they want them to do?
Answer: Nag, nitpick, nudge, remind, coerce, bribe, admonish them, etc..! It's kind of like "you aren't doing it and I'm going to make you." Very unproductive and damaging to the relationship. What if our child said to us, "Hey, you better shape up! You better get on it! You start doing what I say and start being a better parent, and I mean right now!" This absolutely does not motivate anyone to do better.
Question 4. What should parents do when they get "moans and groans"?
Answer: Connection before Connection! Empathize with their feelings....they want to be heard and understood. Make sure they know your intentions (the 4 reasons above). You can discuss solutions to help make vacuuming not so bad:
-choose/negotiate another chore
-use headphones with favorite music
-break the task up into breaks (each room)
-trade jobs with a sibling
-make it more about family fun (blast Disco music and all clean)
Question 5. Children DO better when they FEEL better. So, how do parents get their children to feel better about chores?
Answer: 4 points:
1.take time for training- teach them how to do the task, my definition of loading the dishwasher and their definition are quite different, same with putting their laundry away. They need guidance, encouragement and the chance the fail
2. avoid expecting perfection- we aren't perfect and neither are they!
3. appreciate their effort, more than the end result of the task- ie: mowing the lawn
4. start young- toddlers, ie: am chart of self care: eat breakfast, clear dishes, get dressed, put jammies in hamper, brush teeth (helps me AND they feel competent and confident)
Question 6. Are low level jobs okay?
Answer: Yes, they all have their place. "Pooper Scooper", "Garbage Patrol", and "Dish Duty" will run their course. They'll love them at some point, and want to re-negotiate at a later time. Parents: "Is there another way you'd like to contribute?"
Question 7. Can you give some examples of how parents can take the chore out of chores?
Answer: Be CREATIVE!
-do them together - Disco Sundays indoor, or yard work outdoors
-discuss in family meetings - brainstorm, write list, pick tasks. They'll have ownership because they were part of the problem solving and choosing
-job wheels - spin the wheel daily to get job of the day
-switch it up - Cole cleans Riley's and Riley cleans Cole's room
-job jar - Go Fish - daily or weekly chores on slips of paper, kids fish out
-job charts - for older kids, in the form of a checklist
-Ready-Set-Pick up - "pick up 15 things and put them away"
-Job boards - show a model of summer job boards!