Thursday, September 28, 2006

Kids and Chores

Many parents struggle with whether or not their kids should take part in doing chores around the house and whether or not the kids should get paid for those chores. Some parents feel guilty making their kids work and strapping them with adult responsibilities. Other parents take an opposite view and, out of laziness, make their children responsible for the running of the household which, technically, is the parent's responsibility. My husband and I wrestled with this question early in our parenting and we were blessed to find a method that works well for our family.

When kids are small, they naturally desire to be around mommy and daddy, and they think it is fun to help with yardwork and housework. This is the perfect time to begin to teach your children to do basic chores. Children as young as two can dust furniture or fold kitchen towels alongside an adult or older sibling. It is good to demonstrate the correct way to perform the chore but you have to be careful not to expect perfection and frustrate the child. This is a time to lower your standards so that your small children can learn at their own pace and not be burdened with a sense of failure everytime they try to help you. When my oldest daughter was two years old, I was hesitant to let her help me because I wanted everything to be done my way, but over the years I found that letting my kids help and loosening up on my expectations produced great benefits later on.

When it comes to receiving money for chores, we only pay our kids for "extra" jobs. All of the basic housework and yardwork is shared among our family members and since I don't get paid for jobs such as cooking dinner or vacuuming the living room, neither do my children. All of these basic chores are things that must be done to keep our household running smoothly. Other chores like extra organizing tasks or a "solo whole-house cleaning" (during busy times) are money-making opportunities for our children. My kids regularly ask what they can do around the house to earn money to buy Legos, candy, or Hot Wheels cars. This is a good way to start showing kids that value of money and the work necessary to earning it. One thing that we are careful of is not over-paying the kids especially when they are young. Our older kids might get paid more for a job that their sibling that is 5 years their junior. If you overpay in the beginning, you will have to overpay in the end!

Overall, the important thing about kids and chores is letting them feel that they are a part of taking care of the house and family. Kids need to know that they are valuable and that their efforts are appreciated. Allowing your kids to do chores around the house will help them to know that they are important and capable, and it will prepare them for their future lives as adults.