ParentWhiz Guide to Chore Success
Basic Steps and Tips
- Get a list of age appropriate chores for reference. This post has two links and there are thousands of others out there on the web. Have at it. You only have to read a few lists to get an idea of what chore fits what age group.
- Decide which chores you would like to focus on for each age group.
- Decide when you want each chore done. What day/days. What time.
- Decide when you want your new/revised chore plan to start. Tomorrow?
Some Very Valuable Tips
- Decide why you want your children to do chores. Think this through because your reasons are the foundation of your success. Most important is what you want your children to learn as life skills and life values.
- Implementing your new plan, or changes to your old plan, will be a bumpy process at first. It’s a change and all change feels like new shoes – it might rub blisters at first. This is why you need a good plan to start because once you develop the plan you need to stick with it.
- Decide what “going well” looks like for you. Does it mean the chores got done, with minimal grumbling, only a couple of reminders from parents, acceptable quality? Perfection is not the goal. Chore glee is not the goal. Acceptance with respect is where you are headed. It might not be where you start, though. Change takes time.
- Start young. Start now. Never too late.
- Teach one chore at a time, regardless of your child’s age. If it is a new chore it needs to be taught. Use the fewest words possible when you teach and go heavy on the demonstration. Then have your child try it. Praise their effort. Fine tune just a bit. Then let them do it. Shadow from a close distance then back out when they have it down well enough.
- The younger the child the fewer chores they can handle. One or two for younger kids. Three or four for older ones.
- Some chores are regular personal chores. Clean your room, pick up your stuff, do your laundry, etc. Other chores benefit from rotation. Take for example, doing dishes. Please try to have only one youngster in the kitchen at a time so they can have some physical and mental space. Dishes might be a chore for a week and then it rotates to the next dishes elligible sibling. Variety is the spice of life.
- Rotation day. Same day every week. No exceptions. If child A misses dishes one night because of a family outing, child B still starts dishes on rotation day. We are not counting numbers of days of the chore. We are sticking with rotation day, whatever you decided that is. If your child says, “That’s not fair,” your pleasant reply will be, “You know this is the way it always works. ” Been on vacation? Rotation day stays the same and the family plugs right into the chore schedule as soon as vacation is over.
- Create and post a simple schedule. This is critically important and never compromised or negotiated. List what chores get done on what days, not who does them, though. For example the schedule might say Dishes – Daily – Rotates on Rotation Day. Or, it might say Clean Your Room – Saturday Morning – Every Week. Clean Bathroom – Saturday Morning – Rotates on Rotation Day. You get the idea.
- Create and post a simple chore list of each child’s regular and rotating chores.
- No chores before school except maybe make the bed. No TV before school. Oh. Wait. TV is not a chore. Anyway….
- No rewards for chores. Remember? Humble acceptance without gain.
- $$$. If you want to create an optional extra chore list so kids can earn money, do it! These chores are never regular chores, they are extra. This list posts the chore and its wage. Example: Clean out fridge – $2.00. If a child wants to earn some money they have to initiate it with a parent. They select the chore and ask if they can do it. You might need to teach these chores as they are requested.
- Keep it simple. No fancy chore charts, gimmicks, stickers, little rewards and so on. I tell my clients that this is too much bookkeeping and I have noticed that complicated systems are the number 1 reason chore plans fail. Did I mention – Keep It Simple?
- Make A Dent Day. If you are drowning busy one day and time is tight, you can announce that it’s a Make A Dent Day. That means no one is off the hook but the standard is just a little different. Example: Shove all the toys into a corner for today. Put them away officially the next day. Or, do as many dishes as you can do in 10 minutes.
- Model acceptance for your children. No grumbling about how tired you are and how you really don’t want to cook dinner. Keep it to yourself or your children will learn this behavior so fast it will knock you over!
- Acknowledge your children’s successes along the way. “Just look how fast you cleaned your room! Good for you!” “You are really getting good at pet poop duty. And I really appreciate you not complaining about it.”
- Give your new plan a month. Work it consistently without any changes. Then, look back and have a good grin over how much better things are going.