With the kids home for summer and lots of housework that needs tending to, you may be wondering what chores you can give to your older children. Studies have shown that there are benefits to children having chores, including learning mastery of a task and feeling a sense of accomplishment. Having your child wash windows every Monday not only frees you up to get something checked off your to-do list but also teaches your child a skill that they can carry with them through adulthood. This week, we offer tips for creating a successful summer chore plan.  

Getting started

 Start chore responsibility off on the right foot by holding a family meeting to make a plan.

  • Explain to your child why you are having the meeting and why helping out around the house is important. For example: “Living in a family involves a lot of work. It takes all of us working together to take care of ourselves and our home. It is everyone’s responsibility to help the family run smoothly, so we want to give you some choices about what you can do to make all of our summers fun.
  • Make a list of chores that need to be done: making beds; taking out the garbage; watering the garden; feeding the dog.
  • Ask for your child’s input: Give your child a chance to say which tasks they would like to do. Ask your child to choose jobs they can manage alone, but be mindful of your child’s age and abilities.
  • Create a final jobs list and categorize by family member, and whether each chore is daily, weekly, or monthly. Make sure it is clear on the chart that you are contributing to the family too.
  • Your child might benefit from a visual checklist that shows them what chores they need to do on certain days of the week. Many elementary school children like to help make their checklist. Your child could help draw the lines, read items from your draft list, or write down chore items themselves.
  • Before talking with your child about their new jobs, decide whether you plan on using rewards or consequences as an incentive. Each child is unique and you know your child best. As a family, decide whether, for example, your child can “earn TV time at the end of the week” for completing chores.
  • As with all chores, the key to your child’s success is showing your child how to do the task and doing it with them until they are comfortable. At first, your child may need help getting started with their chore, especially if it is a new one. Ask them what would help them remember to do their job. One idea is to do it at the same time every day. Another is to pair it with something else the child likes to do. For example, maybe they would find it fun to listen to their favorite songs while washing the dishes or folding laundry.
  • Ask if they would like a reminder from you if you notice they haven’t done it by a certain time. If they don’t do their task, are there natural consequences you can live with and are the consequences applied to each family member? Do you have a “work before play policy” in your household? If so, make that clear in your discussion.
  • When you notice a chore has been done, get into the habit of saying thank you. Add an impact statement, telling them specifically how it makes the family run more smoothly. Tell them how them doing jobs around the house or yard makes it more pleasurable to walk up to the front door or hang out in the living room.
  • At the end of the first week, talk with your child about how chores are going. Ask for their opinion, then offer your own thanks. Keep your conversations positive and offer lots of praise when possible.

Yard card and safety

While some chores, such as feeding pets or putting laundry away, are appropriate for children over 7, there are certain chores that need to wait. Many parents are eager to get their kids on lawn mowing. duty, but the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has some guidelines regarding this common household chore—and for good reason. According to the AAP, in the U.S., more than 9,000 children go to the emergency room for lawn mower-related injuries every year. 

 To use a push mower, children need to be 14 and over. In addition:

  • Kids must be both strong and mature enough to remain focused on the task
  • Be trained in how to safely operate a mower
  • Wear eye protection and closed-toe shoes

The AAP also recommends that parents supervise their child’s work until they are comfortable that their children can mow alone. And, lawn mowers, weed eaters, chip-shredders, and other sharp-edged yard tools should not be used by anyone under 14.

While lawn mowing may be out of the question for a few years (or not!), there are lots of other yard work chores your child can help with:

  • Teach your child how to maintain a garden, including planting seeds, watering, and pruning.
  • Have your child be in charge of the watering schedule.
  • Show your child what plants are “weeds” and what needs to be removed.
  • Rake up any tree debris.
  • Shovel dirt or mulch into garden or flower beds.
  • Harvest fruits and veggies from the garden.
  • Create a compost bin and manage it.

Teaching life skills

Accomplishing chores makes kids feel proud of their competence in taking care of their possessions and living space, which also makes them feel good about themselves and builds confidence. Teaching your child to care for their living space from an early age will set them up for success later in life.

 

This article is brought to you by Parenting Now! Parenting Educators and authors Amanda Bedortha, Claire Davis and Lynne Swartz and consultant Jay Thompson (andupdatemywebsite.com).  Parenting Now! is passionate about happy, healthy families. For more information about Parenting Now! please visit their website (https://parentingnow.org/) or contact us at info@parentingnow.org


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