Make chores rewarding

16:00, Dec 14 2012
CLEANING TIP: Turn chores into a game to get children to do tasks.

A reader wants some tips on getting her slightly older kids to help with household chores.

She says she missed the boat when they were little and finds trying to get them to do things a chore in itself.

Very few people get great pleasure out of routine household jobs, but most of us tend to do them if we feel we're contributing, that the contribution isn't taken for granted, or that we aren't doing it just because someone else doesn't want to. It's the same for children.

If we complain and get bad-tempered about doing them, then the odds are our children will develop a similar attitude. I always think about how Tom Sawyer made the job of painting a fence seem so much fun that other boys paid him to be allowed to help. And what's more, they actually had fun doing it.

Here are some ideas that parents have found that can be used from time to time as a break from routine. The family reward. A hired DVD, dessert, snacks and drinks, a family game or an outing.

The 15-minute pick-up. Set the kitchen timer and have everyone go for a new record in having everything back in its place. You can tidy an average house in that time.


Commercial cleaners. Television commercials, that is. Take a one-hour programme everyone watches and have chores assigned to be completed during the advertising breaks. An amazing amount can be achieved.

Go for gold. Occasionally leave a dollar coin or two hidden around the house.

The chores list. Have chores listed, and announce the number of chores each person has to complete. Once the assigned first chore has been completed, the worker gets to choose the next chore from the list until each has completed the required number.

My music. Each week it's one person's turn to choose the music that will be worked to.

Job chart. A visible weekly schedule of assigned jobs acts as a reminder, and shows that everyone plays a part in doing the housework.

What can we expect children of different ages to do? Three-year-olds can pick up toys, clear their plates from the table, dust and put clothing away.

Four-year-olds are usually quite enthusiastic helpers, and can tidy rooms, empty cutlery from the dishwasher, fold towels, and set and clear the table.

Five and 6-year-olds can make their beds, wipe up spills, sweep, feed pets, pick up outside rubbish, and clean baths and basins.

Seven and 8-year-olds can vacuum, clean toilets, sort and fold washing, empty dishwashers, wash and dry dishes, polish shoes, water house plants, and make a simple lunch.

© Ian Munro 2012. All rights reserved.

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