Tuesday, May 28, 2013
3 Deceptively Simple Steps to Teaching Kids Chores
In case you missed it, I recently wrote about 3 simple steps to teaching kids chores. Here's a recap of the three steps:
1. Demonstrate. Show your child how to do the process, explaining as you go.
2. Supervise. The child primarily does the chore, with you supervising. You correct and assist as needed, but let him do most of the work.
3. Leave. Your child does the chore on his own, with you nearby so he can come and ask for help if needed. When he's done, you come and make sure he did everything correctly. If not, you have him do it again with you supervising.
This post is titled "3 deceptively simple steps to teaching kids chores" because these three steps seem so common-sense. However, my sinful heart is always getting in the way. These steps look so easy, they deceptively hide the many, many pitfalls we parents encounter. I find myself tripping up in three major ways:
1. I get stuck on Step 1, always demonstrating. I'm the one who does all the work, always showing Buddy what to do and never allowing him to do it himself.
Let's use picking up toys as an example. Getting stuck at Step 1 means I say, "pick up the toys" and then I do all the work myself while he watches. Often I find myself falling into this trap because it takes the kids soooo long to pick up the toys themselves, and I get impatient. But this will really backfire in the long run, because even though I may save 2 minutes when he's a toddler and I pick up his toys for him, when he's in middle school and still can't (or won't) pick up his room, I'm sure we'll spend hours and hours on this issue.
2. I get stuck at Step 2, always supervising. He can do the chore himself, but I'm always hovering, never trusting that he can do it without me.
I say, "pick up your toys" and I know he can do it himself, but I hover, criticize, and nitpick. I need to remember the end goal of parenting--teaching my kids so that they can leave my house. That means I need to be willing to let go, a little at a time, and trust him to do things for himself.
3. I skip Steps 1 and 2 and try to go straight to Step 3. I expect him to be able to do a task by himself without taking the time to be patient and give him the proper instruction.
I say, "pick up your toys" to my three-year-old without teaching him what that means or where to put the toys, then I leave the room. He doesn't know how to complete the chore and either ignores me, does a terrible job, etc. Of course, this can lead to all kinds of problems--usually me being angry or impatient with him.
I think the main takeaway here is that even if it's frustrating or time-consuming, we do need to teach our kids how to do chores like laundry and cleaning. Remember the end goal of parenting--one day your kids will leave! When that day comes, you want them to be able to do all kinds of everyday tasks themselves. But we also need to remember that teaching them even simple tasks will never be easy, since we're always being tempted to impatience, anger, etc.
Fellow parents, where do you struggle the most with teaching kids chores??
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