Expert Questions & Answers Getting Kids to Help Out
Ann Douglas, author of The Mother of All Baby Books: The Ultimate Guide to Your Baby’s First Year is here at GeoParent! Read Ann’s advice on everything related to having a baby and raising kids. Have a question for Ann? Ask her here!
I am having a terrible time getting my eight-year-old son to pitch in around the house. It’s very frustrating. Any tips on what parents can do to get kids to help out with chores?
This is an issue our family has struggled with, too. I think most families struggle with it, in fact! Here are a few tips based on what’s worked with my kids over the years.
Highlight the advantages of pitching in. Your child is much more likely to be receptive to your request for assistance if you make it crystal clear that it’s in his best interests to help out. There’s never a shortage of laundry-folding volunteers at my house if I let everyone know that we’ll have time to hit the mall this afternoon provided that all the laundry’s folded and put away before lunch time.
Assign chores that are age-appropriate. There’s nothing more overwhelming to a child than being assigned a job that’s simply too difficult for him or her. Here are a few basic guidelines on what types of jobs kids can do at various ages:
Toddlers: Matching up socks, putting the cutlery on the table, picking up toy.
Preschoolers: Making their bed, putting clean laundry away.
Six- and seven-year-olds: Carrying the recycling box to the curb, emptying the dishwasher, vacuuming their rooms.
Eight- and nine-year-olds: Cleaning the bathroom mirror, weeding the garden, putting away groceries.
Ten- to 12-year-olds: Washing windows, mowing the lawn, washing the car.
Teenagers: Cleaning out the refrigerator, making dinner, cleaning out the garage.
Give your child some basic instructions. While you know that it’s important to use dish soap when you’re washing a sink full of dishes, your five-year-old might not realize that dish soap’s a necessary ingredient in the recipe for clean dishes!
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Don’t overload your child. In our family, we have a rule that everyone “owes” the family 20 minutes of work a day. It generally works quite well. Asking them to contribute more than that amount of time would cut too much into their play time and dramatically increase the likelihood of a mutiny.
Don’t play Martha. None of us likes to be held to Martha Stewart-like housekeeping standards, kids included. While you’ll want to encourage them to do a good job when they’re dusting the furniture, this is no time to be doing the proverbial white glove test.the end