Starting chores early with your child sets them up for success in life. By creating specific roles and setting expectations of children at an early age, you are creating important healthy habits that can have many significant benefits now and into the future.
Whilst it’s very possible that your kids won’t do the task as well as you will and, in many cases, it would be easier to just do the chore yourself, the quality of the work is not the point. The advantages of a child being given responsibilities around the house are plentiful.
- Giving a child responsibility makes the child feel valued and important which fosters feelings of improved self esteem and self worth. A child will develop confidence and competence as they learn how to complete tasks.
- Children become more independent when they learn new skills. Some skills learned in childhood are those they maintain for life. If a child has been given chores throughout their childhood you can trust that when they eventually leave the nest, they will know how to clean the bathroom, do laundry and cook safely.
- Creating expectations and applying time frames builds self discipline as children learn to step out of their comfort zone. Chores may not be a child’s first idea of fun, but it is a life skill to learn to do things when required as a responsibility, rather than a choice. Having the discipline to sit with discomfort is an important skill for achieving success as an adult.
- Chores are hands-on and therefore great for keeping kids active and supporting motor skill development.
- Learning how to work with others is a complex and important skill. Chores often require cooperation which is valuable for developing effective relationships with peers, teachers and colleagues.
STEPS FOR SUCCESS
Its important that you are consistent and although the level of your expectations will change over time, it’s essential that fundamentals remain the same. Here are some tips to stay on track:
- Don’t assume that your child knows how to do a task correctly. Show them first, spend some time doing it with them and revisit the task regularly to improve the quality.
- Set a daily/weekly schedule to show them where the chores can fit in their busy week. Letting them off the hook because they have a lot of homework or sporting commitments sends the wrong message, it’s better to show them how to manage their time and duties effectively.
- Sticker charts are effective in the beginning, but don’t need to be used forever. Just like toileting and sleeping charts, chore charts should be used to help instil a habit. After a month or so, you (and your child) will become bored of the sticker system but if implemented correctly the chores will have become part of your routine. If you’re using rewards, including pocket money, free time, etc., these can continue without the need for instant gratification with a sticker.
- If you are sick, on holidays or are faced with other challenges, it is ok to adjust the level of your expectations. However, it is important to retain some elements of consistency. For example; if your child is sick, rather than giving them an out from their chores, offer instead to help them. This in itself teaches a valuable lesson about the benefits of helping others.
If you’re looking for more ideas around supporting your child in developing healthy habits at home, our online OT at Home course may be helpful to you.