Getting children to do things at home, can be quite a daunting task for many parents, and most often parents come across as nagging or playing the role of ‘bad cop’. To be honest, many times it’s much easier for a parent to just do the work – it’s faster, done better and there’s less whining at home. Seems like a win – win situation. But if we consider the child, in the long run, we are really not helping them.
Children getting involved in the home from a young age builds character in them. It teaches them responsibility, perseverance, hardwork, diligence, integrity and commitment. Qualities that will be so useful for them later on in life – whether it be in their studies, when they get a job, their marriage or other life situations. So I do believe that teaching children to help around in the home is a vital part of parenting.
Children can start learning to do things at home right from the age of two years with simple things such as putting away toys they take out or even just putting their used plates into the kitchen sink once they are done. Habits that are built into children will be things that can continue for life.
A couple of things to remember while giving children tasks:
- Ensure you are giving them age appropriate tasks. If the work given is too hard, they will get frustrated. You must also take into consideration each child’s unique development and personality.
- Involve the children in the process of deciding what tasks they will do. If it comes from them, they will be more enthusiastic to do it.
- Change a few tasks every now and then to make it more interesting and so that they learn to do a wide variety of things around the house.
- Don’t expect perfection. Like I mentioned earlier, many times it’s much easier for the parent to just do the task. But children will learn by doing. Keep encouraging them and praising them for their efforts.
- Try making the process enjoyable. Make a ‘Chore Chart’ or a ‘Things to Do Chart’. Let them colour it in or individualize it so that they own it. You can even use rewards at the end of the week or month to motivate them.
Tasks can be given according to the age of the child and things required to be done in your home. Here are a few suggestions according to their age (Each age just has the new developmentally appropriate items. You can also add things from the previous age group when you are helping them make their list):
- Putting back toys
- Wiping surfaces
- Taking their dirty cups or bowls to the sink
- Putting used clothes into laundry basket
- Putting away a group of toys into different baskets
- Taking plates or other items from the table to the sink after a meal
- Watering plants
- Helping getting things for a younger sibling (e.g. diaper, spoon, etc.)
- Cleaning room (with individual tasks one at a time being given by parent)
- Dusting (Ensure they are using a wet cloth so that they don’t breathe in the dust)
- Setting the table
- Clearing the table
- Folding their clothes
- Cleaning the hall (arranging cushions, putting away used cups, picking up toys or other items around)
- Entertaining a younger sibling for a short period of time
- Washing their used cups and plates
- Folding and putting away clothes into the right piles in their cupboard
- Folding younger siblings clothes
- Cleaning their room
- Making their bed
- Cleaning the shoe cupboard
- Helping wash the car or bike
- Cleaning vegetables
- Washing other family member’s plates and cups
- Folding other family member’s clothes and putting it away
- Washing their cycle
- Helping a younger sibling get dressed
- Cleaning the outside area of the home, or sweeping the steps
- Cleaning bathroom sinks
- Helping with cooking
- Making simple breakfast on weekends (such as peanut butter sandwiches, toast, cornflakes and milk, etc.)
Please note that these are just suggestions of different tasks children can do at each age group. Please don’t give them the whole list, it may be considered child labour! You can use this as a template to create your own list or show the list to your child and let them choose maybe five tasks that they will do regularly for the month.
Here’s a sample chart for a 6 year old:
Here are a couple of charts that you can download and personalise for your child: