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Health & Parenting

Divide and Conquer Household Chores

Have a family plan for everyday household tasks and you’ll teach your kids a great life lesson.
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Make a Chores Chart

"Create a list of every job it takes to keep a family going," Fay says. Have kids pick out the chores they'd most like to do. Then create a chart.

First, check that everyone has an age-appropriate chore. Then divide the chart into three columns. One is for the list of chores and whose chore it is; another is for deadlines; the last one is for making a check mark when the chore is done. Put the chart where everyone can see it and let everyone follow through on their own assignments.

You might actually find it easiest to have two charts: one for daily household chores and one for weekly household chores.

Here are two more tips:

  • Be specific with instructions. Pantley says, "'Clean your room' is vague and can be interpreted in any number of ways. Instead, be explicit by saying, 'Put your clothes in the closet, books on the shelf, dishes in the kitchen, and toys in the toy box.'"
  • Ease into chores for children. First, show them how to do the chore step by step. Next, let your child help you do it. Then have your child do the chore as you supervise. Once your child has it mastered, she's ready to go solo.
  • Go easy with reminders and deadlines. You want the chore to get done without you micromanaging it. Pantley recommends the "when/then" technique. For example, say, "When the pets are fed, then you may have your dinner."

 

Allowance for Chores?

Should your child get an allowance for chores? Usually not, say most parenting experts.

Chores are partly about responsibility and partly about learning household tasks. They're not focused on earning money. Yes, kids need to learn how to handle money, but not by doing chores they're supposed to do anyway.

It's especially important to not tie allowances to chores for younger kids, Pantley says. That's because a younger child may be less motivated by money and simply choose to not do them.

There's an exception: For older kids who already know how to be responsible, money can become a nice motivator for doing extra chores above and beyond their usual tasks.

Fay suggests letting them bid on those extra chores and picking the lowest bid.

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