Friday, April 8, 2011

Getting Children to Do their Chores . . . Revisited

Since Wednesday's All in a Day blog post on Getting Children to do their Chores, I've thought of a few tips that might be worth sharing.  I think some of these ideas might be especially helpful for moms with young children.

Five Tips for Getting Children to Do Their Chores:

 1.  Give your children a written list or chore chart.

Even as adults we can't remember everything we are supposed to do, so we use hastily scrawled to-do lists, refrigerator calendars, Day Planners, Blackberries, Google calendars, etc., etc, to help us keep track of what we are supposed to do each day.  We should not expect our children, especially young ones, to remember everything they are supposed to do.  We need to give them some sort of chart, checklist, or other visual reminder.  Older children do well with a checklist or chart.  Younger children do better with pictures and chore wheels or chore pockets.

When my oldest daughters were really young, I made them chore charts on construction paper with stapled-on pockets and found pictures from magazines or drew pictures to illustrate their personal hygeine routine and simple chores.  This was back in the old days, ladies!!!!  ;)  This task is much simpler today (and infinitely more fun!) with a world of clip art illustrations, photographs and fonts at our fingertips, ready to be printed on our home printers!

Another idea which I learned about a few years ago (and never used, but maybe I will!) was to make a simple game board and hang it on the refrigerator with a child's daily chores or morning routine marked along the game board path, along with a Starting square and a Finish line.  Then, use either purchased magnets as "game pieces" or make them out of magnetic strips stuck onto the back of recycled game pieces or onto pictures of race cars, or whatever you choose.  Your child moves his magnetic marker along the path as he completes each chore.  Doesn't that sound like an Awesome motivator for a young child, especially a little boy???

2.  Provide positive reinforcement for jobs well done.

I believe that most children respond better to positive reinforcement than to punishment.  So look for ways to reward your children for completing their chores well and on time.  You can use stickers or small Dollar Store trinkets as daily rewards and let them fill up a chart to earn a larger reward at regular intervals (such as a small prize, playdate, or special outing).  Even adults are motivated by earning small rewards for meeting short-term goals on our journey to accomplishing long-term goals and reaping greater rewards.

Don't underestimate the power of praise!  If you have your children's hearts, they should want to please you.  Many times you can motivate them just by sincerely and lavishly praising them for a job well done!  Remember this secret:  public praise is double praise!  So, be sure to praise them for their hard work in front of their father, their grandparents, their siblings, your friends, etc.

Unfortunately, this means that we must get up and check to see if our children actually did their chores.  The old adage is true -- "you get what you inspect, not what you expect."  Most parents struggle with this (including me!), because we are too busy, too tired, or just too lazy to inspect the work we've assigned.  :(

3.  Plan random inspections and rewards.

If you can't make yourself inspect every day, you can at least utilize this quality control strategy!!  This is the lazy mom's way of inspecting chores and is totally fun!  I used to hide coins in the laundry for the children to find when they had to fold a big pile of laundry!  They got to keep whatever money they found!  I also did this as much as twenty years ago to encourage thoroughness with dusting.  I would hide coins behind picture frames and knick knacks, to be discovered by the thorough duster!  :)  My little girls were delighted if they found money, and motivated to be thorough next time, just in case!  If they didn't find any money, I knew in my "omniscience" that they had not done a good job!!~  ;)

Many years ago I used to call out random Drawer Checks, too!  I would examine the kids' dresser drawers and give them a quarter for each drawer that passed inspection!  Sometimes I sent them up to clean out their drawers, and hid mini candy bars in them -- again it provided motivation for them and proof for me as to whether the jobs were done properly!  (Sneaky, huh??)

My husband also employed this strategy.  I've seen him randomly ask the children if they brushed their teeth that morning, and give a whole dollar to each one that did!  Toothbrushing would be at a record high for a week or two after that!  :) 

Try to think of ways that you can have surprise inspections with fun rewards!  The Dollar Tree makes it affordable and fun! 

4.  Arrange your schedule to take advantage of your children's appetites.

Did you know that using food as a reward is Biblical???  Consider these verses:

"All the labour of man is for his mouth, and yet the appetite is not filled."  -- Ecclesiastes 6:7

"And also that every man should eat and drink, and enjoy the good of all his labour, it is the gift of God." -- Ecclesiastes 3:13

"He that laboureth laboureth for himself; for his mouth craveth it of him."  -- Proverbs 16:26  (This verse is clearly stated in the Amplified Version --  "The appetite of the laborer works for him, for the need of his mouth urges him on.")

"For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat."  -- 2 Thessalonians 3:10

Based on the wisdom of these scriptures, I used to arrange my schedule so that chore times fell before breakfast, lunch and supper.  I did not allow a child to eat until his (or her) chores were done.  You can also sneak in chores before snack time or dessert time, using this very motivating method!  :)

And it won't hurt most children to miss a meal or two!  ;)

 5. Discern between Childish Forgetfulness and Willful Defiance.

When your child fails to complete his chores, you must discern whether he is willfully disobeying your commands . . . which would require chastisement  . . .or just getting sidetracked and forgetting to complete his chores, which would require different consequences.  If you have a child who is a dreamer or a dawdler or who gets easily sidetracked, you will have to find creative solutions.  I have repeatedly discovered that it is practically impossible for four brothers to clean their room together without acting out a battle, trying out their new sword, stopping to play with the legos they are supposed to be cleaning, etc., etc., etc.  ;)  It is best to split them up and assign them to remote areas of the house!   A child who has trouble staying on task or remembering to complete a job may need more training, more practice, or a loss of privileges. 

Hopefully, these tips will make getting your children to complete their responsibilities less of a "chore!"


mommyx12 said...

Done, done, done, done, and done. All of the above works almost every time.

Sam said...

Great tips!

Joy: said...

We have chores pretty down pat here, but I LOVE your suggestion of having them do chores around meal times. That would be very effective for my very hungry 13 year old son!

Sarah Mendenhall said...

I am so thankful that I found your blog! I am not yet married but I have been looking for a wise older woman's blog to read. All your practical tips make so much sense and I won't be surprised if I implement them in the future! Thank you and God Bless!

Jennifer said...

Thanks for visiting my blog. I really have been enjoying the All In A Day posts and appreciated the inspiration as I continue training my seven blessings. Thanks for the tips on chores, it is always good to be encouraged.

Lainie said...

Boys trying to clean their room without staging a battle scene. I have no idea what you mean!? Like when the stuffed animals start flying and all you hear are the thumps of boys jumping from the tops of bunk beds. Why isn't their room clean yet?

Here's a topic to tackle...How to get that "boy feet" smell out of their room. Can it be done?

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