Let’s Make Our Children Independent: Making our kids Responsible through daily chores

Let’s Make Our Children Independent: Making our kids Responsible through daily chores

Getting kids to help you out in household chores is a goal every parent has. Not only does their participation in household chores help in easing things off for you, but it plays a bigger role in gaining skills and competence in the foundation of success in life such as consistency and discipline.

By letting the kids share the household work, you train them in maintaining a household along with giving them a sense of satisfaction in contributing to the family. Also, helping in doing chores will give kids an opportunity to understand their responsibility towards their family. Each stage of doing a chore at a particular age will prepare the child for independence and build self-esteem.

However, don’t we all know that it can be a real task to have our kids help us in doing chores! The chores for kids have to be fun as well as interested in doing it. Let’s look at how we can make it a fun learning experience:

  • Come up with your own songs for daily chores, sing it along with your child and let them enjoy the songs while doing the chores.
  • For younger kids, give them two options of the chores to choose from. This will give them some agency in choosing the task. Assign them the responsibility for completing the task they have chosen. They are more likely to complete the tasks if they are given responsibility and are shown value in themselves as young individuals.
  • Visual timers – use visual timers for younger kids to encourage participation. Positively reinforce them with a toy/stars, etc. at first, when they manage to finish it within the time given.
  • Share the tasks – share the tasks between you and your child for them to know you are helping them. You can start simple by saying, ‘you can put the dishes in the sink and I will wash them’ or ‘can you put the dirty clothes in the laundry so I can wash them?’ etc.
  • Use reward charts for adolescents where they complete the tasks assigned to them through the week and at the end of the week, they get the reinforcer that would be pre-decided by the parents and child together.

For example-

REWARD CHART- This week I am working for Ice-cream treat.

Task Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday
Clothes in laundry bag done done done done done
Pack school bag done done done done done
finish homework done done done done done

For older children, you can use a system of allowance. For every task they accomplish that has been assigned to them, they can get a fixed allowance as pocket money that can be used by them to purchase whatever they want. This will also help your older children be responsible for earning their allowances. However, do not use the system of allowance with younger children as we are still teaching them that performing their chores is important and we are training them for independence. With older children, as we are preparing them for stepping into the work world, you can use the system of earning an allowance for daily chores as they will have to take responsibility for handling their finances as well.

There are a few things parents should take care of while assigning chores to the kids-

  • Start with very specific instructions of the particular chore and keep it very short. For example, ‘Put the plate in the sink’ or ‘Keep toys back in the box’ etc. When you give a very specific and precise instruction, it will be easy for the child to follow through.
  • Make sure you do not overwhelm the child with too many tasks at a time. Start very gradually with only one chore, and as the child picks up, add in more tasks in a stepwise manner. This will ensure that there are not too many demands on the child and the child will be motivated to make sure the chore assigned to him/her will be accomplished.
  • When your child is learning and participating in daily chores, make sure you do not look for perfection in the beginning, and it is completely fine to assist him/her in completing the chore. Keep the demands less and let them enjoy the process. Only then they will be motivated to participate.
  • Celebrate even the smallest success achieved by your child and praise them for their efforts. Make sure at any point in the chores, there is no frustration setting in for the child.

Here is a list of chores suggestions you can pick for your child to perform according to their age.

Chores for a toddler-

  1. Simple tasks like picking up their toys and keeping in the toy basket after playing.
  2. Carrying the lunch plate till the sink.
  3. Putting shoes back in the rack after coming from an outing

Chores for a preschooler

  1. All of the above-mentioned chores.
  2. Wiping lunch table after meals.
  3. Putting their clothes in the laundry basket.
  4. Taking back dried clothes to their room.
  5. Feeding your pet.
  6. Helping in watering plants.
  7. Taking out groceries from bag.

Chores for an elementary schooler

  1. All of the above-mentioned chores.
  2. Setting the lunch table for the whole family
  3. Carrying dishes back to the sink or dishwasher
  4. Helping in putting clothes for drying
  5. Sweeping/mopping the floor: can start with their own room first and then progress
  6. Cleaning their room: folding clothes and keeping in the cupboard, books and games back in their shelves, etc.
  7. Assisting parents in grocery shopping
  8. Packing their school bag
  9. Putting garbage bin outside

Chores for middle schoolers

  1. All of the above-mentioned tasks
  2. Help parents in cooking or small short independent cooking tasks
  3. Gardening activities
  4. Walking their pet
  5. Bringing groceries from nearby market
  6. Doing laundry independently
  7. Making their own bed and sweeping mopping the floor
  8. Taking responsibilities of their studies and tests

Chores for high schoolers

We are preparing our high schoolers for staying independently hence, most of their household tasks have to be done by them without any assistance. Along with all of the above-mentioned tasks:

  1. Cooking breakfast, lunch or dinners
  2. Washing their car
  3. Making a list of groceries or daily essentials required and bringing them from nearby market
  4. Keeping the house clean Dusting, sweeping, mopping, vacuuming etc.

These are general lists of daily chores. You do not have to include everything as a task for your child. Choose the ones that are appropriate for you and your family culture; slowly build on the tasks as the child masters the skills. Remember to be patient, calm and become your child’s partner for performing chores and giving them the right skills to be responsible adults.