Chores: Realistic Expectations for Parents

Chores are a complicated subject. Should you insist your children do them? What chores are appropriate for their age? When do you start giving them chores? How many chores are too many? What consequences do you set if the chores aren’t done? Should children get money for doing chores or are they something that should be done without compensation?  Is it a good idea to have children do the same chore repeatedly, whether it’s daily or weekly? Or is it better to mix up the chores? There are so many questions that swirl around in the minds of parents when it comes to chores that it can be quite confusing. There isn’t a tried and true user’s manual when it comes to this subject. If you consult with ten different experts, you’ll probably get ten different answers. It isn’t that nine of these experts will be wrong. It’s just that there’s no single right way to handle this decision that will fit every family. The final decision will have to be made by you. That doesn’t mean that you’re out there on your own. There’s plenty of guidance available. You can go to the library and read up on the subject or Google the topic and find a lot more than ten experts. You can talk to your friends about how they handle chores with their children. If your parents are still living, you can ask them how they came to the decisions they did about chores when you were a child. This can leave you with lots of input and possibly more confused than ever. After you’ve done all this research, you have to decide what’s right for you and your children. Your final decision should be made with your end goal in mind. What do you want to achieve by giving your children chores? For some parents, the bottom line is they need help taking care of the household. For others, it’s about teaching their children how to fend for themselves when they grow up. Still, others view chores as a way to instill some important life skills. Some families even use chores as a time to bond or as a way to free up family time so they can have fun together later. Knowing what your goals are can be a big help in deciding if, when, and how to assign chores to your children. It can also be an important part of setting realistic expectations. If you assign chores without these goals and expectations in mind, you can actually increase your stress level. Rather than making your life easier, you might find that you’re repeatedly nagging your children to do their chores. Or the chores aren’t done to your satisfaction and you end up feeling like it would just be easier to do it yourself. When choosing the types of chores you would like your children to do, consider their ages and abilities. Keep in mind that each child is a unique individual. That means assigning chores based on chronological age alone may not be the most appropriate thing for your family. Even if you want to teach your children how to take care of a house so they’re prepared for the day when they’re on their own, you might take their personality and skills into consideration. Having them help around the house isn’t a punishment and doesn’t have to feel like one if you take their feelings into consideration. For example, if you have a budding chef at home, you might consider letting them help with meal preparation. Learning how different tasks are handled in a professional kitchen might be interesting and even make the cleanup more palatable to this youngster. Similarly, if a child is mechanically inclined, you might consider letting them help with basic automobile maintenance. For some children, understanding the reason why they have to do these routine tasks can help them to appreciate their importance. This can lead to more willing spirits when doing the chores, even if they aren’t something the children enjoy. When you set your expectations at a realistic level for your children, this can help reduce the feeling that it would be easier to do all the chores yourself. While in some cases that might be accurate, it may not be the best course to achieve your goals. You know that you have to adjust your expectations of what levels of physical activity your children can do as they grow. You obviously don’t expect infants to walk before they crawl or youngsters to run before they can walk. In some cases, allowing your children several opportunities to gain, improve, or master skills may be the right course. No matter what you decide, it’s important that you communicate your expectations clearly. Give your children some room to grow, but also opportunities to shine. Not every task they are given must be challenging, nor must it be done perfectly. Giving praise and also educating when they don’t quite hit the mark are great tools, especially when both are given together. This allows children to know they can do the task at hand and that you’re proud of and appreciate what they’ve done. It also lets them know what they can do to improve their performance in the future.

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