Motivate your preschool children to help you out with household chores
A version of this article is in Today’s Parent, April 2016
Setting up household chores for your family is an important part of teaching children how to care for the space they live in. However, preschool children seem to not hear when it’s “clean up time” and yet your 8 year old daughter is a great little assistant at home. It might be surprising and frustrating but lets face it kids (and adults for that matter) have their personal strengths and weakness.
The key to decreased a parents frustration is knowing reasonable preschool responsibilities and being sure to channel the perceived weakness. Channeling a weakness will become a strength; it doesn’t happen over night – but with persistence you will see this success within your preschool children.
Parenting expert Andrea Nair from London, Ontario reaction to the actions of your preschool child is “This is the age they realize they have choices,” she says. “Before, we sang ‘Let’s tidy up,’ and they did what they were told. Now, they have independent thoughts—and they are being asked to do something that isn’t enjoyable. It’s a tough sell.”
Richard Rende, co-author of Raising Can-Do Kids, says when kids hear parents say that chores are lousy jobs to dread; this dread will naturally trickles down to the children. Rende says, “Kids don’t inherently ‘know’ chores are ‘crummy.’ Kids actually like doing the chores…because kids are hands-on learners. They are natural helpers at an early age.”
Make household chores fun
Most experts say chore charts don’t work because preschool children might complete the task to get a sticker, but if they are always looking for a reward, problems set in. Instead of the sticker chart; parents need to show their preschool children how GREAT the accomplishment is for a job well done or for a clean space.
Substitute the sticker system with statements like, when-then or after-then phrases. For example; a parent should say to the preschool child, “When your Lego is put away, then we can have a snack.” Or, “After you clean up your room, then we can go to the park.” To motivate your preschool children; along with these statement put on music, and play a “clean up game” like, “throw all the toys in that bucket before the song ends!’”
Reasonable responsibilities for preschool children are:
Setting the table, putting away their toys and their dirty clothes into a hamper, water plants, shovel snow and do basic cleaning. Preschool children will be more successful by creating what is
called an “away spot” throughout your home for all reasonable household chores for your preschool children. Examples of “away spots” are having clothing racks and hooks low enough so that your preschool children can hang up their own clothes. Put a tiny broom and dustbin under the sink, they will love to help sweep up spilled cereal! Some shelves on your bookcases should be arranged low; be sure to place bins and baskets inside the shelves; the more colorful the better! Setting up “away spots” for your preschool child will set her up for success and you might find yourself tossing the sticker chart into the garbage; or your preschool children will!
An important point to helping your preschool children help with the chores around the house is by accepting the way they did their job. Be sure not to redo their clean up the way you want it to be. Parents should try very hard to not do or redo the household chores of preschool children. If this is done, the preschooler might begin to feel that they are incapable and/or they simply won’t do the chore knowing that his parent will do it.
It’s always easier to do it yourself as opposed to teaching your preschool children to do reasonable chores. But remember that your preschooler WANTS to help and more; you are setting your preschool children up for success in all ways as they grow to adulthood.
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