Life is too short to clean up your kids room
5 tips for teaching kids to work
Assign Them the Job(s)
You can start with having them clean their own space. If you are like most parents, your kids have their own area, either a room or a section of a room that they call their own
- Make the Assignment: "Son, I can't clean your room anymore, I'd like you to clean it from now on."
- Set the expectation: "You need to make sure to make your bed, keep clothes off the floor, pick up toys, etc."
- Deal with failure: "Until your room is clean, you can't play with your friends; have dinner; watch TV; etc."
- Conduct verification: "What are all these clothes under your bed?"
Let them Help/Contribute
Most children have an inate desire to do what their parrents are doing. When you let them help, it helps to encourage their work ethic. They will start to associate work and pleasure.
- Don't expect or ask for perfection (or even for the correct outcome). If you make them feel bad for trying, you'll kill their desire to help.
- Don't give them too much to do. Let them do a part of the job that is appropriate for their abilities. If they want to take on more than they can handle, either tell them that they can do that when they are older, or give them full supervision.
- Praise their effort. Despite the outcome (positive or negative), let them know how much you appriciate their help. Tell them they are good helpers. Remind them that when everyone works we appreciate things more.
Make it a Habit
Initially doing chores is not going to be easy. It's up to you as a parent to ensure that your child is reminded of their task(s).
- In the book The power of Habit by Charles Duhigg we learn that once something becomes a habit it is much easier to accomplish.
- Use a schedule: Kids usually relate well to visual markers of progress. My mom used cards that were moved from a "to do" to a "done" slot. My sister uses a magnet board. Other ideas could use lists, or even phone apps.
- When they fall off the wagon, make sure they get back on it! There will be days when they forget and you forget. This does not mean you have failed, just make sure it happens the next time.
Teach Delayed Gratification
Allowance is a topic that I'll address in another section, but it's important to give your child some sort of positive feedback for their effort.
- Some of the variations include a "date" with a parrent, or a coupon for an item.
- If you do use money, make sure you are not creating the expectation of easy money for routine tasks. Keep it realistic; provide incentives for consistant performance and "extra" jobs.
- Linking chores and allowance. The threat in this is at some point if you pay too much, you risk having your kids save up money and decide to not do additonal work.
Set the Example
Kids see more than we give them credit for. You can't teach hard work, if they never see you work.
- It is counter-productive to ask your kids to do their jobs from the comfort of your couch
- Show that you’re not afraid to get your hands dirty around the house.
- If your child sees you give up on a task because it is too hard, they will be likely to share that attitude.