How To... Set Up Family Chores
Getting the kids involved in chores teaches responsibility and will lighten the workload for everyone! Learn how to establish family chores fairly.
Step 1: Create a chore chart
Make a chore chart and post it in a prominent location in your home. This chart should have three columns: one for the chore, one for the deadline and one for checking off completed tasks. Consider each child's age and ability before assigning chores to be sure the task is appropriate and managable.
Once you've decided on the chores, talk it over with your children so they understand what is expected. "Clean your room" is too vague and open to individual interpretation, so explain that this task means putting clothes in the closet and dresser, books on the shelves and toys where they belong.
Step 2: show, don't tell
Demonstrate for your child. Show her what you want done, step by step. The next time the chore needs to be done, have her help you. Once she's done these steps, it's time for her to go solo! Let her do the chore by herself, and then check her work. If she's missed a step, gently remind her. All kids need praise for a job well done, so be sure to compliment when it is done right.
Step 3: Set a schedule
Establish a timetable for the chores. Some chores may need to be done daily, such as emptying wastebaskets or feeding the pets. Others might be done on a weekly schedule, such as cleaning rooms or dusting the bookshelves. Go easy on the reminders, but do let the kids know that certain chores must be done within a specific timeframe by using the when/then technique: "When you've emptied the dishwasher, then your sister can set the table and we will have dinner."
Step 4: Establish a reward system
Decide on a reward system. Positive reinforcement trumps negative every time, so establish a reward system for a job well done. Perhaps it will be an allowance that the child earns weekly for satisfactory completion of chores. You might decide the reward is a family outing -- going for ice cream or a special treat, or to the park after a week of on-time and on-task chores are done.
Use stickers or gold stars on the chore chart to mark completion of chores by younger children, and always give praise and thanks to kids of every age when they do their job well. Showing appreciation and acknowledging help is always important.
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