April 23, 2013

How to Get Your Kids to Help with the Cleaning

It’s a topic many parents often debate, worry and complain about, but getting your children to help with daily chores around the house can become a nightmare if you’re not careful. If children have not been raised in an environment where they are expected to help, then they will become very reluctant to do so if this new responsibility is thrust upon them.

It can also be tempting to do the work yourself, as you may worry that your children will break something, hurt themselves or simply not do the job well. However, it is important to not let this become an excuse for you to be lumbered with all the housework or your children will not learn responsibility for their actions. I remember my mother entrusting me with household chores as my brother sat back and watched TV – the excuse being that he was too clumsy and would break something. As clumsy as some children may be, you will find them eager and careful participants if the following rewards are to be gained.

Pocket money

The old favourite of giving pocket money in exchange for household chores has prevailed for good reason: the majority of parents believe that children learn independence and financial responsibility through handling their own small finances. However, giving your children money in exchange for chores also teaches them about the value of doing a job well. You can set the price differently depending on the length of time you expect the job to take, and you can always raise the price for an exceedingly good job.

If your aim is to have your child clean out their room, Music Magpie is a brilliant way for your children to earn their pocket money by getting rid of old CDs, DVDs and games. They will soon learn the value of what they buy this way as well.

Special treats

If you don’t like the idea of pocket money, or if you want an extra option, rewards are always a good one. If Timmy cleans his room very well on Wednesday, then we will have a trip to the zoo on Saturday. This use of incentives teaches children how good actions can have good consequences, as well as teaching the value of a job well done.

The treat itself can be as big or small as you want it to be, so long as it is attractive to the child. Don’t make things difficult for yourself by setting an unwanted precedent; a simple reward for your child could be having a friend stay over if they help to clean their room in preparation.

Competition time

This is a great way of making sibling rivalry work in your favour. Stick a chart with your children’s names somewhere prominent (e.g. on the fridge) and give them a sticker or a star when they have completed a job well. The child with the most stars at the end of the week can choose a prize – it can be something as simple as picking their favourite dessert for Friday night or what the family movie should be. Kids love a competition, and they’ll be sure to want to impress you as well as win!

To ensure this works for as long as you want it to, gradually make it possible for everyone to win. Hand out jobs and judge how well they’ve been done in accordance with your child’s age and maturity.

If your children don’t have siblings, then a collaborative cleaning approach between parent and child often works best, with you leading the way.

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