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Getting kids to help out

The importance of age-appropriate chores

By Basmah Ramadan

Remember how much you disliked doing chores around the house when you were a youngster? Well, now you’re a parent and it’s your turn to encourage your children to help out without making a fuss.

Experts agree that consistency, motivation and starting early are all keys to longer-term success. But there are also a few other secrets that are worth looking into.

Stay consistent

To ensure that children grow up to be ready for adult chores, they must be trained at a younger age. Although chores may be different according to every situation, nonetheless, this behaviour should be consistent everywhere. For instance, if your child takes too long or does not do his/her chore, don’t do it for them. To ensure that they do it faster next time, some parents might discipline their kids by taking away something they like.

One should assign chores to their kids depending on their age and how much you think they can handle. For example, children 5 years and younger are less likely to comprehend a chore that requires a lot of steps to accomplish. On the other hand, a 7-year-old or older, might be more capable of completing a chore with many steps.

Age and ability appropriate

Many parents are not aware of which chores might be suitable so they wait for too long to start the process. Wise advice says start them young and it will be easier to get them to do chores as they get older. The sooner you start, the more likely you will discover hidden skills and possibly their enthusiasm.

Don’t worry if it isn’t perfect

Everyone tends to be a perfectionist. However, as a parent waiting for your child to finish their chore, perfection is not what you should expect. If you judge them based on how you would’ve done it, it might discourage them. Any positive reinforcement using words or actions can motivate them to do a requested chore. And with more practice, the more likely they will perfect it.

Some chores will require a parent’s supervision. And even then, let them do it their way, then—after the positive reinforcement—correct them. For instance, if you asked them to do the dishes, supervising them is for you to check whether or not the dishes are fully clean.

Keep motivating your child

Make sure your kids know that they are doing a good job. They are motivated when they see that they can help and you appreciate their efforts. To motivate your kids more, you can make an interactive itinerary. That might involve having a schedule where they can either get rewards for the tasks they accomplished by collecting a certain number of stamps to receive candy, or extra playing and/or TV time.

Chores for 3-year-olds
Kids at this age are filled with joy and enthusiasm. Chores like putting the toys back in the box could be something they positively associate with gaining parental approval.

Chores for 5-year-olds
At this age, a child is a little more aware of his or her surrounding, and therefore, you can ask them to do chores that can be done in two or three steps. Some of the chores include washing vegetables and emptying out small trashcans.

Chores for 7-year-olds
At this age, a child could collect the household garbage, wash the dishes, put wet clothes in the dryer or take out dry clothes. Depending on your child, some can handle more responsibility now, which might include feeding a pet ,or unloading the dishwasher and handling glass.

Chores for 9-year-olds
Chores at this age can include setting the table, taking out the trash, emptying the dishwasher, dusting, or even vacuuming. They can also be responsible for watering the plants.

Chores for 11-year-olds
Children at this age do not need as much supervision to do their chores. For instance, they should be able to change their bed sheets, clean windows and mirrors, and wash the dishes, without any help.

Chores for 13-year-olds
Becoming a teenager represents a great step in a child’s life. Accordingly, their assigned chores should become more advanced. Their duties can now involve cleaning, mowing the lawn and ironing clothes.

Chores for 15-year-olds
Chores can vary at this age; some parents give children more responsibility than others. Children might be asked to go grocery shopping or prepare small meals. You can also get them to clean the car or the outside windows.

Chores for 17-year-olds
When your child is 17 years old, they are almost young adults. At this point, they should be able to perform the essential tasks you are doing at home; from doing the laundry and grocery shopping, to cooking meals and cleaning the house. Right about now, your child would have learned from all previous chores and would be ready to take care of themselves, should they choose to move out.

Organizing a set of routine chores for growing kids helps strengthen various skills relating to responsibility, management, and planning. Getting your kids to do the dishes or emptying out the dishwasher will help develop your kids’ life-skills and make your life easier. The more chores you give them, the more beneficial it is.

Basmah Ramadan is an intern with CAF.

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