Family tasks for children
Every parent hopes to see their children become responsible and self-reliant - two of the hallmarks of a mature adult.
And, believe it or not, getting there can be as simple as teaching them to put out the rubbish and set the table when they are youngsters!
In one US study researchers found that participation in family tasks was the most important factor in predicting 'success' in their mid-twenties for those children who were given chores at age three to four. The research also found that the key was to start early. The children rebelled when parents started giving chores to eight or nine year olds or even teenagers. In the words of the researcher, 'they didn't get the concept of "we're all in this together"'. They had become too self-centred.
There are other positive spin-offs. Those little jobs teach the child that they are part of a community, the family. They also learn that everyone needs to be involved if that community is to be effective. Being asked to do something makes the child feel useful and important.
But it does require patience and discipline on the part of the parent. In fact the number one reason given by parents for not giving chores to little children is that it is quicker and easier to do it themselves. In today's busy and hectic world that is a big temptation for parents.
Second, parents have to accept that tasks will not be done just as they would like or to the standard they would like.
The importance of encouragement
Your relationship with your children is the most important single factor in developing their self-esteem. So before setting tasks for them give some thought to how you are going to go about it.
When things go wrong it can be a frustrating and bruising experience for both parent and child. So don't rush in without the preliminary planning. That's why it is really important to use encouragement rather than shouting, cruel words or penalties, particularly with very young children.
They are going to forget to do the task; they are going to become distracted by other things; and they are going to make mistakes or have accidents.
So, make sure that you -
- Choose tasks that are appropriate for the child's age
- Choose tasks that they may be interested in
- Start them off with only one or two small tasks
- Break the task/s down to short easily-remembered steps
- Show real appreciation - say "Thanks very much for setting the table, that's a big help for me" rather than " You are a good boy"
- Avoid negative criticism
- Try and make the tasks fun
- Be patient - they won't get it quite right or do it as well as you can.
- Setting the chores
- Why doing chores is important
- When they don't play the game
- What about pocket money