What I found to be true is that we teach them very little by doing it all. For every age beginning in toddlerhood there are chores that can be done, help that can be given and a system of give and take to be exchanged. There is an internal reward system for accomplishment that comes with or without the incentive of M&M’s, money or Robux. Trust me I am all for incentives but there is still a feeling of accomplishment without them.
I have children right now that range from age 9-24 years old, so I’ve been doing this a long time. I don’t pretend to know it all and know that every child is different. I know personally, I don’t have two who are alike. However, I do feel that chores help all kids retain life skills, increase self esteem and encourage helping others.
I was speaking to a group of moms recently and one of them mentioned she doesn’t make her kids do chores because she wants them to focus on academics and their sports teams. She said it’s not that she is against chores it’s just “they are so busy there really isn’t time for them to do them.” Now I completely understand and respect that this is how she conducts her home and her children and we all facilitate our own homes the way we see fit. What works for some doesn’t work for another and I can appreciate it, but it did get me thinking about what if I didn’t give my own children chores.
That vision was short lived. I had 30 seconds of mom guilt and then reality came back to me. Kids do not just learn in school and academics are really not, if I’m being honest, the most important to us in our home. Sure, I want my kids to excel in school, but I more so want them to be well rounded, competent, kind adults who don’t look like a deer in headlights when they begin their 18 and over lives and are asked to help, share, clean or teach something that academia didn’t show them how to do. I want them to not just make a bed in the morning but learn to put the one-way fitted sheet on too. I want them to know that this is a family unit and the adult(s) in this house are not here to slave the ship. I want them to understand that team work really does make the dream work. We should not always be left to our own devices without instruction or support along the way. Chores initiate so many skills that the classroom just can’t nor do I feel it’s a classroom responsibility.
Yes, I have totally organized a color coded chore chart and left it up to them to put a nice “X” in the box once they finished a task. I also have assigned the chores to each of them on different days based on fairness and ability. Guess what, this didn’t work for us. They would argue and complain about who had “harder” chores and “more”. Clearly this way was less than productive and stressful. They were marking things with an “X” that they had not done yet or meant to do but never got to. We were a hot mess over here. I knew I had to change something and then it hit me. Stop delegating everything. Let them figure it out. They are 9 & 10 years old. Let them discuss, learn, grow and be responsible for their own chores. What happened next was amazing!
Come back tomorrow to see what worked!! (: