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Health & Parenting

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Children, Cleanliness, and Chores: Myths vs. Facts

How can you get the kids to do chores without a fight? See these tips from WebMD.

Children’s Chores in the Bedrooms and Living Room continued...

Vacuum side by side. Let your young child use the hand-vac as you use the bigger vacuum. As your child gets older, they’ll take pride in being put in charge of the big vacuum themselves. Make a big deal of it. And praise their work. Don’t criticize the few dust bunnies they left behind, as long as you see them trying.

Dust for an allergy-free home. Use dusters with extendable handles to let your child dust behind the bed or in high corners of bedrooms, where dust bunnies and cobwebs tend to collect. Consider micro fiber dust cloths, which pick up more dust. Have your child dust areas that don’t have breakable vases or lamps. Dusting the bookcase is a good chore for a child. You dust in the same room around the ceramic or glass items on tables.

Don’t say, “clean your room.” Instead, assign specific chores. “Please pick up all the toys that are on the floor and put them away.” Make sure they have an “away” -- small plastic bins, clearly labeled (crayons, Barbies, action figures, cars) can keep a kid’s closet or toy shelves from chaos.

“If you have to follow up and clean up a little after them, don’t let them see you do it,” says Wendy Young, a Michigan social worker and children’s counselor. “It’s the fact that they’re contributing that’s important, not that they do it just as well as you would.”

Never Too Early to Begin Children’s Chores

No matter where in the house you’re cleaning, it’s never too early to start getting kids involved. If your child can walk, they can help out. Start early. Buy your child a set of small household cleaning tools, like a mini-broom or dustpan set.

“One mistake that parents often make is suddenly deciding that their child needs to help out around the house when he turns 12. This rarely goes over well,” says Young. “Most kids start to show an interest in chores by around 2 or 3 years of age. Children are natural imitators and they enjoy copying what the big people in their lives do. Parents need to capitalize on that.”

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Reviewed on July 30, 2009

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