I am a big fan of getting kids to help out around the house. The benefits to raising children who know how to work are practically endless! But the real question is, HOW do we do this?? If you struggle with getting kids to pitch in, this one trick might be just the thing you need.
A while ago, when asking one of my children to complete a household task, I realized that I often phrase my chore requests like this:
“Hey Juliet, will you please pick up the living room for me?”
“Liam, can I ask you to please do the dishes?”
“Kira, will you do me a favor and sweep the floor when you’re done?”
Can you see the common mistake I was making? I was asking my children to pitch in FOR ME. Not because the task needed to be done or because they were a part of the family or because it was their turn, but I was (unintentionally) phrasing the request as if mom was solely responsible for the housekeeping.
I quickly realized that this definitely isn’t the family culture I want to develop. I want my children to learn that running a household requires work. We need to prepare food and clean up after meals, put away our possessions and deep clean the bathrooms because that’s part of life! Not because their mother, the chore-assigning ogre, is forcing them to do it.
So, I changed my wording surrounding household jobs. Now I say something like this:
“Hey Juliet, don’t forget it’s your turn to pick up the living room.”
“Liam, will you do your dish assignment, please?”
“Kira, it looks like you spilled some flour. The floor will need to be swept when you’re done.”
My words make it very clear that maintaining a clean and orderly home is everyone’s job and if any one person slacks off, it affects everyone. So far, the change has been pretty dramatic!
We currently have a chore chart (on a monthly rotation) that works well for us, so most of the time I’m merely reminding kids of the chores they’ve already been assigned. But sometimes I have to ask them to pitch in when a younger child has made a mess or there’s something out of the ordinary that needs doing.
Fingers crossed our kids continue to learn how to contribute to the family and be considerate of the space and people around them!
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