I'm curious about how many of us have regular chores for our children. When I was growing up child labor was far more common. My dad used to say that just when I could finally do a full day's work on the farm I went off to first grade.
According to a recent survey this is not the case in today's household. In that survey 82% of parents said doing chores was a normal household experience when they were a child, but only 28% of the same parents said they asked their kids to do chores.
Why is this? In the survey several reasons were given. Some parents believe their children are too stressed out to do both homework chores. Many didn't want to fight the battle. Some said it was just plain easier to do the work themselves than to teach their children to do it.
Let me be clear about this. None of those are good reasons. Of course it's easier to do it ourselves, but it's better to teach our children to do it. Chores really don't take very long, if they are done correctly and with proper training. The problem comes when we just tell children to do something without taking the time to show them how to do it.
In a study of chores done by the University of Mississippi, Dr. Marti Rossman found that chores instilled in children the importance of contributing to their family. He also concluded that those people who had done chores as young children were more likely to be well-adjusted and have better relationships with their peers.
So how do you start chores? Select something that is age-appropriate, that is simple enough for your children to accomplish. Show them exactly how to do it. Have them help you do it. Help them do it. Watch them do it. Don't leave out any of the steps. Problems arise when we simply dump chores on children without taking the time needed to work with them on how to do the chores themselves. Describe the importance of what they are doing and how it helps the family. Model a good work ethic for them. Don't sit on the sofa watching TV while they are mopping the floor. I think you will be surprised how proud children are of the work they accomplish. This weekend would be a good time to begin.
Blessings on your parenting,
Tim Miesner, Principal