You Want Me To Do What?

During all my years of working with parents I have been asked repeatedly, “What can I do to get the kids to help out more around home?” And I think we all can see ourselves at Lori’s house with the laundry issue.

Many changes have taken place in homes since we were kids. The days of being able to depend on Mom to do it all are changing. So having your kids help with things around the house is a good idea.

When everyone pitches in, you have more time to enjoy each other as a family. The kids learn skills that will carry over into school, relationships, and adult life. They also learn they are an important part of the family.

The best time to teach your kids is when they are young. Even toddlers can help by picking up toys or carrying their plates to the dishwasher after meals. But don’t give up if you have an older child who doesn’t help – it’s never too late.

Here are three steps I found really helpful when getting our daughters to help out at home.

1. Notice good behavior. We had a “chore chart” posted on the kitchen door. The girls got to put stars on the chart when chores were completed. They really worked for those stars and when they earned a certain number, we would do something special together.

2. Show how to do a particular task. Your child is more likely to carry out a job if he knows exactly what you expect. Don’t expect him to get it “right” the first time. If also helps to tell him why you are doing things a certain way.

3. Have your child check back with you after she is done with the tasks. That way you will know the job is done and done right. It also gives you a chance to compliment and praise her on a job well done.

Household chores are not going to go away no matter how much we wish they would. You can be a martyr and try to do it all yourself. And you  probably won’t be the happiest Mom or Dad to be around. Or, you can spend the time to involve your children.

How do you handle household chores at your house? Any good suggestions on how to get the kids on board?

Donna Donald

Donna Donald is a Human Sciences specialist for Iowa State University Extension and Outreach who has spent her career working with families across the lifespan. She believes families are defined by function as well as form. Donna entered parenthood as a stepmother to three daughters and loves being a grandmother of seven young adults.

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