By Karen Dennis
Without meaning to sound like a slave driver, I believe that children should be encouraged to help around the household.
How to mix children and household chores
My youngest son loved to clean my kitchen sink. This started one day when he was bored and as I was pottering in the kitchen. I pulled up a chair so he could reach the sink and put some water in for him, he began playing with some plastic toys and we discussed whether he thought they would sink or swim.
Later when I emptied the water to clean the sink, he asked if he could do it for me. I squirted the cream cleaner around and showed him how to rub it in and rinse away when finished. Adam enjoyed this new activity so much that he asked if he could clean the sink nearly every day (I swear I had the cleanest sink in the country!).
It didn’t end there; he then started to clean his bedroom, and when I say clean, I mean that he removed everything except his bed and wardrobe and set to work. He even used an old toothbrush to clean his dragon ornaments. This has become a bit of a joke in our family as now that he is in this mid twenties, he has gotten through more vacuum cleaners than we can count.
Getting them into the habit
My older children were asked to wash the dishes from around the age of 10. They did this household chore on a sort of rota basis; one would wash the breakfast things and the other two the lunch and teatime. They did this without complaining too much, so when they were a bit older we asked them to dust, polish and vacuum their bedrooms at the weekend, which weren’t done to the same standard as Adam did his.
I also think that younger children can be encouraged to do their ‘bit’ as they often like to help out and it gives them a sense of achieve when they are praised for it. Thy can be simple tasks such as sorting socks into pairs can help with colour matching, so it can be educational too.
Praise, not payment
I wouldn’t recommend that parents pay their children for doing household chores as this could result in them wanting to help for the wrong reasons, far better to give verbal praise in my experience.
I once overheard my step-son telling a friend that I had insisted he scrub the whole house after I reminded him that he hadn’t dusted his room, so don’t expect gratitude either.
As a child minder one of the older children loved to help me by putting the little ones shoes on for them and helped with doing up coats. This was something that I never asked her to do, the children instigated it for themselves.
I’m not suggesting that we go back to Victorian times and send children up chimneys, but getting them to help with simple household chores must be a good idea, surely?
I would love to hear what other parents think about this subject.
As always questions/comments are welcome.