Are We Raising Lazy Kids?
by Sally Burgess, Forefront Families LLC
I saw a Face Book entry yesterday that went like this:
Dad: "Sarah, I am going to wash dishes and get the dinner ready. Could you sweep the kitchen floor?"
Sarah: "No, Dad. Sweeping is not my thing." And she walked out the door.
Obviously, something is very wrong with this picture! Should kids like Sarah, be routinely doing chores at home? Yes! Absolutely! How else will our children learn how to manage their own households as adults?
An effective parent:
- Trains kids to perform particular life-skill tasks.
- Teaches kids good time management e.g. I do my homework, then my chores,
followed by dinner, an hour to do what I want, and then off to bed.
- Creates opportunities for them and their kids to work together to accomplish an
end goal e.g. putting toys away, washing the car, creating a meal, growing and
tending a garden.
- Encourages kids to think of others. It is not all about them and their needs, but
how we can best serve each other. Doing chores, especially without being
asked, is a sign of respect for others.
- Gives kids a sense of value. They enjoy being recognized as a contributing family member when they are praised for doing a good job.
- Allows for more time to enjoy family activities e.g. once we have done our chores, we can go fishing, swim at the lake, or go to the game.
My husband, Brian, has supervised in the school cafeteria in the past, and occasionally would ask a child to pick up trash that another child had left behind. He would often get the retort, "I didn't put it there. I am not picking it up!" Wrong answer!
Where do we start?
- From the time our kids are two years old they can learn to pick up toys and
straighten their beds.
- Create the expectation that each family member pulls their weight in the home.
That means both parents and kids are busy with household chores. Your kids
are not going to do a perfect job immediately, so be careful to encourage rather
than chide them on their early attempts at new chores.
- Make up a fair schedule for all the children, changing it around so they learn all
tasks as they are able.
- Create incentives e.g - when they are not reminded to do their chores, they get
to spend a little more time doing something they particularly enjoy e.g. they get
to be Queen or King for the day and can choose the meal they want for dinner.
- Have a plan to introduce your kids to more difficult tasks until they are fully
equipped with all the skills necessary by the time they leave home to lead an
I know that sometimes we think we can get the job done faster if we do it ourselves. We find ourselves doing things because we can't stand our kids' protests. I must confess I have fallen into that trap my self. However, it doesn't prepare our kids to be great homemakers and role models for their children. Start them doing chores when they are very young and give them lots of encouragement about how their contribution to the family is making a real difference. They are much more likely then to be happy to do their part rather than protesting.
If you have any comments or questions on this subject, do not hesitate to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Check out our website at www.forefrontfamilies.org and our blogsite at www.forefrontfamilies.blogspot.com