You know how it is... You come home to find the house a mess, backpacks in front of the door, the kids are screaming at each other, clothes strewn everywhere, dirty dishes in the family room, more dirty dishes on the kitchen table. And the moment you ask for HELP, a bigger screaming match breaks out.
WHAT DO YOU DO?
You know your children need to be responsible and self-sufficient, but life happens. You vow to implement a system, saying to yourself "Iíll get around to it later". You want your children to take charge of their belongings, and take more pride in their home, but that seems like a pipe dream.
BUILDING LIFE SKILLS
Studies show that children who perform household chores during their school years attain more SUCCESS in adulthood than those who do not. Follow these simple strategies and you could soon be hearing..."Mom, Can I Help Around the House?"
ASSUME THE ROLE OF TEACHER
Children learn to read, write, add and subtract from their school teachers. A parentís role as teacher and MENTOR of essential life skills is equal in importance.
COMMIT YOURSELF FOR THE LONG-HAUL
Consistently send the message to your kids that youíre in this for the long haul. You will be rewarded by their COMMITMENT as well.
PROVIDE AGE-APPROPRIATE TOOLS AND INSTRUCTION
Give your child opportunities to succeed by providing the right tools for the job, ample instruction, modeling how you want the job done, and provide plenty of opportunities for PRACTICE.
MODEL THE BEHAVIOR YOU ARE TRACKING
As the clichť goes "actions speak louder than words". If your children consistently see the adults PROCRASTINATE in their responsibilities, then the children learn to do the same.
GET BUY-IN BY INVOLVING YORU KIDS IN DESIGNING THE SYSTEM
The more involved your children feel in the process, and they feel that their input is valued, the more OWNERSHIP they will feel for the assigned tasks and the overall success of the system.
CREATE NON-NEGOTIABLE HOUSE RULES
Without ground rules, how can you expect your children to know what constitutes acceptable or unacceptable behavior? Rules provide the BOUNDARIES children need to help them learn and practice acceptable behaviors.
NORMALIZE HOME MAINTENANCE ROUTINES
Every family member should have responsibilities to help family life run SMOOTHLY. Set the precedent that performing family chores is as normal as brushing their teeth.
ACKNOWLEDGE HOW THEIR CONTRIBUTION HELPS YOU
When your child learns how much their contribution helps you, you are actively reinforcing a childís desire to contribute more. It not only boosts their ESTEEM, but it also develops their sense of service to others.
BE CONSISTENT IN YOUR DISCIPLINE
Child experts agree that sending MIXED messages to children with inconsistent discipline creates the most resistant maladapted behavior of all.
COMMUNICATE CLEARLY DEFINED CONSEQUENCES
Establish clearly defined, objective, consequences for MISBEHAVIOR, and apply them consistently. Child psychologists suggest that children need to be able to determine with 100% certainty that misbehaviors will be met with predictable consequences.
MAKE TIME FOR HOME MAINTENANCE
Schedule it! Families are busier than ever before, so if you donít SCHEDULE home maintenance into your weekly calendar, then it likely wonít happen. If the parents model that everything else in life is more important than maintaining the home, then the kids will assume this behavior as well.
PROVIDE CONSISTENT FOLLOW-UP
It is said that kids wonít consistently do what you expect. They do what you INSPECT.
BE PATIENT DURING SKILLS TRAINING
Children need plenty of time to master new skills. Donít be afraid to let your kids make MISTAKES. This is how they learn. Resist the urge to criticize or take back a task in frustration.
ESTABLISH WORK QUALITY STANDARDS FOR CHORES TO BE COMPLETED
Everyone has different ideas about what constitutes a "clean" room or toys put away. Be specific about quality standards and what constitutes a job is completed. It is also critical that your children are given a DEADLINE for completing chores.
DON'T OFFER BRIBES TO GET DESIRED BEHAVIOR
I once worked with a client said to her child during our session "Iíll give you 5-cents for every pair of shoes you pick up." A parent has handed over CONTROL to their children when bribing for desired behavior is the only thing that gets a reaction.
DON'T ASSIGN FAMILY RESPONSIBILITIES BASED ON GENDER
In our modern culture, it is no longer appropriate for responsibilities to be divided along gender lines. Teach your children that we are all EQUAL and that there are no duties that are meant just for girls or just for boys.
Janet Nusbaum, of Simplified Spaces, is an Organizing Consultant, Senior Move Manager, Author and Speaker. Janet loves creating order out of chaos. She has waded through all kinds of clutter and mayhem since 2003 to bring serenity and order to frazzled parents, overwhelmed households, cluttered offices, and transitioning seniors and families. She is the author of ďMom, Can I Help Around the House: A Simple Step-by-step System for Teaching Your Children Life-long Skills for Pitching in and Picking upĒ Visit her website at www.SimplifiedSpaces.net.
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