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Simple Mommy Secrets to Choosing the Right Chores for Kids
Excerpt from 12 Simple Secrets Real Moms Know: Getting Back to Basics and Raising Happy Kids by Michele Borba (Jossey-Bass Publishers, 2006)
Several years ago I learned a Mommy Secret from my girlfriend about kids' chores that I've never forgotten. Cindy and I were busy chatting away when she announced to her kids: "Chore time!" As quick as a wink they jumped up from playing and scurried to their kitchen where they proceeded to unload dishes, and put clean ones in the cupboard. And they did so without an ounce of help or uttering one complaint. When finished they turned for their mom's sanction (she nodded approvingly), and then grinned and ran back to play. (Oh, by the way: her kids were three and five years old. Cross my heart!)
So what was the secret to this mom's success? Believe me, I asked her, and my girlfriend shared these three simple secrets and I used them that afternoon with my own kids. 1. Cindy chose tasks that fit her kids' developmental abilities. 2. She planned for chore success. (For example: She bought no-break plastic dishes, and cleared a bottom cupboard so they could put dishes away without help). 3. She first modeled exactly how to do a chore, and then made sure they could do it alone. The result: success! You can use these same secrets with your children to boost their helping attitudes. Here are a few chores appropriate for different ages.
Chores for Toddlers: It's never too early to begin, but let's be realistic. Do not expect a toddler to do any "chore" on his own, but you can gently encourage his helping spirit. Here's how:
Chores For Preschoolers: The important Mommy Secret for this age is if you expect this age of child to do chores first alone, they are likely to give up in frustration. So if you want your preschooler to succeed (or really any age child), first show them exactly how to do the task right. They probably will still need your guidance. Here are a few appropriate chores:
Chores for School-Age Kids: School-age kids are ready to help out in the household as well as some yard work. Go through each new chore step by step with your child so that he clearly knows how to do it. Then observe him doing it at least once to make sure he can handle it.
Chores for Preteens and Teens: In a few short years this same kid is probably will be living on his own. So think of assigning chores to help prepare him for independent living.
It's never too early for your child to help out with the household chores. (Okay, do wait until your child is at least out of diapers and can talk). But the fact is the sooner you begin chores, the easier it is be to nurture your child's responsibility muscle. Remember to choose tasks that match your child's abilities, show your child exactly what you expect, and finally stand back. The real mommy secret is this: Don't do any task your child can do alone. Kids need to see themselves as responsible family contributors.
Michele Borba, Ed.D. is a mom of three, a former teacher, and renowned educational consultant who has presented workshops to one million parents and teachers worldwide. Dr. Borba is the author of 12 Simple Secrets Real Moms Know: Getting Back to Basics and Raising Happy Kids (Jossey-Bass, April 2006).She is a frequent guest on Today, The Early Show, The View, and Fox & Friends. She is also the award-winning author of over 20 books including Parents Do Make a Difference, Don't Give Me That Attitude!, No More Misbehavin': 38 Difficult Behaviors and How to Stop Them, and Nobody Likes Me, Everybody Hates Me. Dr. Borba is an advisory board member for Parents. For more strategies and tips visit www.simplemommysecrets.com.
© 2006 by Michele Borba www.simplemommysecrets.com.
Copyright 2006 - Rachel Suesskow - A Juggling Mum