Nobody is really a fan of chores and we can't expect kids to be any different. You could even say that they don’t like the chores for the same reasons we distaste them. Indeed, a chore involves work and why would anyone handle any type of work unless there is a reward for it?
These are universal truths, but there are also some specifics to take into account. For example, in the eyes of kids, abstract reasons like responsibility doesn’t make sense to them at this stage. These obstacles may seem intimidating, but where there is a will, there is also a way. Rest assured that your approach and tactic goes a long way towards changing your kids’ attitudes and behaviors.
So, here is how to instil a pull-your-own-weight work ethic in children and raise fully-functional, contributing individuals.
A hard truth
Let’s face it: Household chores are generally boring and uninspiring for everyone. Therefore, understanding the nature of child’s reluctance to do a chore isn’t hard.
Most often it is the fact that activities like washing dishes takes them away from something they would rather do -- like playing outside. Therefore, parents should always remind children about the upcoming reward, which is the ultimate incentive for actually doing chores. When you are a child, tidying up a room is a lot more bearable when you know that video games (instead of schoolwork) waits for you at the end. On the other hand, if you pull back your child from something interesting and fail to provide a reward, you turn the chore into a tedious activity.
Therefore, to discover the best possible approach, familiarize yourself with the way your child spends time and respect it.
Finding an angle
What you need to do is not to force, but encourage and entice them. Never lose your cool and don’t get caught in the cycle of nagging. Be motivational rather than punitive.
Start by having an open conversation about the importance and role of chores in your family life. Point out the fact that they are part of something bigger, a greater purpose, but also remember that this is only the beginning.
In any event, you need to refrain from yelling and scorning, even when the kids are complaining and dragging their feet. Likewise, steer away from controlling language and try to make suggestions instead.
All in all, you have to be understanding. Insisting on your own value structure doesn’t work. They struggle to relate the ideal concept of responsibility to the concrete action that fulfills it.
I don’t typically like this idea, but sometimes extra incentives such as a small allowance, could make you a whole lot more persuasive. Essentially, anything that has practical application and value for a child does the trick as a reward.
Name of the game
Bear in mind that learning through play is learning at its best. Kids have an innate drive to be creative and explore new things. Therefore, devise ways of gamifying the house tasks.
Sometimes, a bit of competition could be a great way to spice things up. If you have two kids, for instance, let them compete with each other and see who can the finish tasks faster.
Alternatively, try placing a colorful chart on the refrigerator and assigning points for completing chores on time. Integrate these points with a reward system -- for example, extra points can bring more computer/TV time or other thrilling activities!
Be creative and blend fun with work! Fill the air with good vibes and combine kitchen tasks with a dance party -- the kids can take turns acting as chefs and DJs. Pretend-play is another great strategy to make things more interesting.
Whatever you do, strive to turn tedious chores into fun family adventures, something exciting and stimulating. At the same time, try to give structure to everything in order to foster a lasting habit. Figure out the best time for chores and get kids used to the schedule. During the school year, avoid doing this in the morning as it only adds stress.
Allowing kids some autonomy pays off as well, provided that it does not become an all-fun-no-work kind of thing. Oh, and one final piece of advice: Make sure to assign tasks to children that are appropriate for their age, otherwise, your efforts could fall short.
An important life lesson
Chores aren’t fun, but they do not have to be a stumbling block or the cause of family arguments. They become that only if a parent allows it. So, do not just stand there shouting orders or constantly nagging. Bring entertainment and incentives into the dull world of chores. Promote play and come up with a reward system. Never use chores as a punishment. That way, your children will do the chores even with your backs turned. They will become contributing members of the household who are also responsible, industrious individuals.
After all, chores are training exercises for real life, ones that empower children to gain a leg-up in other areas of life. Good luck!