Chores: The Inside Scoop
I asked my grade threes the other day if they did any chores. Guess what? Fewer than half of the kids said they did any regular chores. I told them when I was a kid, 100 years ago, everyone had chores; at least, the children I knew did. I had a list to do every week and I knew it was a contribution to the running of our home. Did I like it? NO!!! But I did it.
What I didn’t know at that time was my parents were instilling in me a deep sense of contribution, competency, maturity, and the awareness of others’ needs.
Is it sometimes easier as a parent to just do the job yourself? Of course it is. Who wants to hear, whining, excuses, and resistance?
If you can hold in your mind, that in the long run you are doing a SERVICE, to your children by having regular chores, you may find the whole exercise much easier. Research indicates that children who have a set of chores have higher self-esteem, are more responsible, are better able to deal with frustration, and can delay gratification. They are building GRIT. Wow! That is a full line up of great outcomes.
The other day I had the children in my class name all the things their parents do as acts of selfless love to contribute to their lives. The list grew and grew and so did the eyes of some of the kids. I then told the kids I wanted to do a role play of a parent asking a child to do a chore. I would play the child. The first time I would respond in anger, procrastination, and outbursts. The second time I would just do the job, and maybe connect inside myself with the intention to contribute to my family. The kids were on the floor laughing.
The “Parent” then shared with the rest of the students how it was to actually feel the frustration and sadness of a parent asking for a job to be done. Again, having the children role play and embody the parent really gave them a deep empathy for parenthood.
We then wrote all the things we could do for our parents and families that would be selfless acts of love. Things that we would do as secret services. The children were to choose one way of contributuing and do it several times and report back to the class the following week. I said that it may not be noticed or appreciated, but over time they could watch and see if doing something to contribute with joy rather than anger and frustration would change how they feel about the job and how their parents respond. We shall see and report back.
The kids also shared their knowledge of how to wiggle out of chores. They are experts on this! Here is what they said:
“I pretend I forgot because I would rather play on my ipad.”
“I clink the glasses really loud and then my mom will do the dishwasher instead of me having to.”
“I get all mad then my parents give up.”
“They don’t ask me so I don’t do it.”
Smart aren’t they!!!!
When asked “Why won’t you do it?”
“I would rather play.”
“I’m too tired.”
“My sister doesn’t have to so why should I?”
I suggested to the kids that their parents probably feel this way too, and for the whole household to run smoothly, all hands on deck would be helpful. We talked about when the whole class helps clean the room it is shiny in minutes and we can go on and do the things we enjoy, like playing outside or longer tubtime. We spoke of how we love a clean space and with everyone helping we feel happy and satisfied. They feel pride.
James Baraz and I had a recent webinar sharing our book Awakening Joy for Kids with parenting expert, Dr. Christine Carter. She shared much of the research of why paying for chores does NOT support children over the long run. (Research indicates that external rewards can actually lower intrinsic motivation and performance over time. Money can lower a child’s motivation, turning an altrusitic act into a business transaction.) You can read the research and decide for yourself and as a family how you choose to work this one out.
To make a long story short…..
- Start children early to build a lasting sense of self mastery and contribution.
- Know that having your child do chores contributes to their wellbeing now and forever more.
- Share with your child how they contributed to the whole after they complete a chore
- Allow them to help list the chores that need to be done in the house and pick several that they would like to do with joy
- Have a time when the whole family does chores so the children can see that you meet your responsiblities with acceptance and contribution.
Have a great weekend.
James launches his new course this month, Awakening Joy 2017. Come join us and read more about it here.
We now have a Awakening Joy for Kids Facebook site. Come share ideas and find your community.
Thanks to Pixabay for images.