Helping me – Helping you!!
Are you sick of battling your children in hopes they will happily do their chores while beds remain unmade and toys seem to rule your living room floor? Have those midnight walks to the kitchen become treacherous journeys complete with landmines and hidden traps? If so, I’m here to help!
I have created, with time and experience (plus a few headaches), a foolproof method for making chore time an enjoyable time for the kids and me!
Make it a Game: Figuring out creative ways to turn chore time into game time works wonders; kids enjoy games, puzzles and thinking. And they love a good challenge. Here are a few ideas to make chore time a bit more interesting – you’re going to have to get creative. Give your kids a time limit that makes them work quickly trying hard to finish everything before the buzzer rings. Have your children compete by seeing who can pick up the most toys or sort their laundry the fastest. The dishwasher doesn’t have to be a sterile, quiet environment; it could be a brilliant game of Tetris in which your children try to fit every dirty dish into the washer just right.
Don’t Play Dumb: If gaming does not work, and if your child is just refusing to do their chores or fighting you on the subject, sit them down and talk to them like adults. Ask them why they don’t want to contribute. Ask them who they think will do the chores if they don’t help? Be inquisitive. Figure out what’s in the way and ask them for suggestions for moving forward. Treating them like adults might encourage a compromise leading to positive behavior and ultimately, help with household duties. It might take a little coaxing, but they’ll tell you what’s going on, how they feel and why they are being so negative if you give them a chance. Once they are ready to start, offer a smile, some extra encouragement and a bit of silly cheerleading if you must; once they are smiling, you’ll see, the boat has left the dock.
Rewards are Fun: Everybody loves being rewarded – kids included. Make the reward something positive for your child. It doesn’t have to be money. Think about what your child loves most – candy, special dinners, clothes, toys, activities, smoothie money, etc. Ask your child what they believe the job is worth; it might take a little bartering, but once you reach a reasonable agreement, make sure they live up to their end of the bargain – and you live up to yours as well. Be specific in laying out the guidelines and conditions, so nobody feels like they got the short end of the stick. Often times, your child will be excited to complete their chores when they know they will be rewarded for their efforts. Make sure your kids know you sincerely appreciate their hard work and determination – that is actually a larger reward than any, but your kids may not realize that right away.
It’s Not Negative: A lot of parents use chores as punishment and then scratch their heads in wonder as to why their children hate helping with them. When chores are connected with negativity that will ultimately be a learned habit forever linking chores and household work with adverse feelings. Doing laundry isn’t a negative activity; it keeps you smelling fresh and allows for options. Mopping the floor shouldn’t be a horrible action; it ensures health and safety – especially if there are crawlers in the family. When in doubt, make chores fun and positive.
Get Involved: Take advantage of the opportunity to spend a little extra time with your child by cleaning the bathroom together, doing the dishes together, setting the table together. Whatever it is your child is supposed to be doing as a chore, it’s probably more fun to do it with you than alone. You can talk about the day, school, upcoming events, thoughts, jokes, etc. And before you know it, you will have enjoyed bonding with your child and the bathroom will be sparkling clean! Spending quality time is a homerun every time. Yes, you have to give up some personal space and time, but the rewards and benefits for your child will exceed your expectations.
Give Them Options: Don’t be a dictator; give your child options and room for expression. Don’t make them do the same chore everyday – switch it up from time to time. Chore charts work well as do wheel-of-duty spinners. These allow children to shuffle through various chores so they don’t always have to dust the picture frames or clean the toilet. Structure is good, but options are excellent. Allowing your child to choose will also give them a greater sense of pride and responsibility in their work. Walk around the house and search for areas that require chore duties, and have your child list them on the iPad or smart phone, then divide and conquer.
Start Young: Build chores and helpful activities into the lives of your kids beginning at a young age. If you’re folding towels, give your little one a small towel to fold. If you’re picking up toys, ask your child to help grab a couple of toys to put away. Pretty soon, helping with chores and duties will become natural for your child, which is what we all want, right? Some say this is the first step towards OCD, but I disagree – just don’t mess up my desk!!
It’s not always an easy feat, but this is what has worked for me in the past. Don’t forget to joke around, play and have fun as much as possible while doing your daily chores and housework; laughter is good for the soul, and if you’re having fun, you know your kids will have fun too – even if they are rolling their eyes at your goofy behavior.
Good luck out there!
About Daddy Nickell
Nickell is the writer of a weekly parenting blog where he writes on topics such as bonding with your child, and what the father should expect during pregnancy and infancy. He writes from a father’s perspective and keeps dad engaged throughout his children’s lives. He also contributes to national talk shows and daytime television shows including “Good Morning L.A.,” “Good Morning Texas,” “Daytime TV,” WZZM 13 and KSBI TV, and as a syndicated columnist for national newspapers, parenting magazines and websites including Baby Couture Magazine, Oh Baby! Magazine, City Parent Magazine and Homeschooling Parent.
Nickell is also the founder of DaddyScrubs, delivery room duds and daddy gear for expectant and new dads. He is the father of six children, and his practiced advice has been heard on TV and radio shows around the country.