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Blog: The Simplified Home
Children, Household Chores and Entitlement

A common mistake that parents make when delegating household chores to children is remunerating children for their efforts around the house. The reasons for offering money to children to complete chores can stem from a desire to reward children for a good job or to even bribe them to do chores without fuss. Regardless of the reason, the outcome of this practice can negatively impact children's understanding of themselves, their place in the world and their internal belief system.

The dramatic shift in culture between the 1960s and the 1970s ushered in a new wave of parents who largely believed that letting "kids just be kids" and relieving them of many of the responsibilities that previous generations had seen was a more attractive method of parenting. But this parental attitude had some unforeseen consequences. It helped develop a sense of entitlement in children.

While conducting research for writing my book Mom, Can I Help Around the House? I conducted a survey of three hundred fifty parents. The survey yielded alarming results and proved that this attitude has not changed much since then. Merely 11% of parents I polled reported that their children's household contributions are expected and were laid out clearly for them by parents. From this data, we can infer that allowance figures greatly into the children and household chores equation. And we also know that offering an allowance to complete chores can only increase children's sense of entitlement.

Paying children for chores can negatively impact a child's personal growth. If children receive money for contributing to their own household the seeds of entitlement can emerge. A sense of entitlement can send a child spiraling away from the concepts of teamwork, family dynamics and the desire to learn important life skills that will contribute to their success as adults if a reward is not attached. Moreover, if frustrated parents stop expecting them to do chores, but continue to give an allowance, while they take care of all the household chores themselves, children may perceive the continued allowance as a reward for refusing to do the chores!

As a parent, it's important to teach children that household chores are not an extra way to make money, but rather, a way in which to condition themselves into self-sufficient people capable of caring for themselves and aiding in the care of others. By proactively reminding children that their contributions are necessary, expected and appreciated, children will develop a sense of belonging to something larger than themselves, become confident and secure in themselves, their environment, their place in the home and in society. Think of it this way: if parents let "kids just be kids" and protect them in their early years from learning how to take care of themselves and a home, their sense of entitlement can accompany them way past their eighteenth birthday.

Instead of practicing a monetary reward system with household chores, parents should instead opt for teaching children the non-monetary value of chores and emphasize the worth of the skills learned from them. If parents place value on chore completion early in a child's life, the child is likely to find value in them as well. Because chores are often a group effort, children can celebrate being trusted with important housekeeping jobs and build self-esteem by knowing that their contributions are not only appreciated, but necessary to a functional household. With this type of instruction, children become true apprentices of their parents- little people learning big lessons about life. Their internal belief systems shift to parallel the reality of the real world- a place in which hard work can result in real-life successes, a positive self-concept, service to others, and a healthy environment.

posted on: 9/15/2008 10:00:00 AM by Janet Nusbaum, The Organizing Genie
category: Homes

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The Simplified Home

by Janet Nusbaum, The Organizing Genie

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About Janet:

Janet Nusbaum creates calm out of chaos, and loves bringing serenity and order to overwhelmed households, cluttered offices, frazzled parents, and transitioning seniors and families. Janet, President of Simplified Spaces & The Simplified Home, is an Organizing Consultant, Senior Move Manager, Author and Speaker.

She is the author of "Mom, Can I Help Around the House?" A Simple, Step-by-Step System for Teaching Your Children Life-Long Skills for Pitching-In & Picking-up".

She is a proud member: National Association of Professional Organizers (NAPO) & National Study Group on Chronic Disorganization (NSGCD)

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