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Let's Talk About Kids' Chores!

I've been talking a lot about kids doing chores lately, and I thought I'd add another discussion to the mix.

What about attitude?

It's fine to say they have to do chores, but do they have to enjoy it?

Smaller children do tend to enjoy it. Give a 3-year-old a spray bottle with water and a cloth, and he will be in heaven.

Give a spray bottle and a cloth to an 8-year-old, and he will not. Kids don't like cleaning, as a rule. Come to think of it, most adults don't, either. If we did, our homes would never be messy!

But when it is chore time, what sort of attitude do you demand from them? Do you demand that they do it without complaining? That they whistle while they work? That they try their hardest and get it done quickly?

The truth is that we cannot control someone else's emotions. Demanding that they enjoy chores is taking it a bit far. We can, however, ask them to do them quickly, ask them not to complain, and ask them to try hard. Asking them to smile is a little bit much.

We were running into problems at our house over chores because my children were always bickering. Rebecca would say Katie wasn't working hard enough; Katie would counter that Becca was telling her what to do. It seemed that the only time they really fought was when they were doing chores, which made me very angry!

Thankfully, a combination of talking to them and them maturing has gotten rid of most of that, but we do need to figure out what attitude we are going to demand. Because while you can't (and shouldn't) try to control emotions, you can ask for politeness and respect.

I would simply not pay kids who didn't do things with an appropriate attitude that would pass at a workplace. One of the purposes of chores, to me, is to train children for the workplace. That means they have to work hard, well, and quietly. If they can't do that, they don't get paid (but they still have to finish!).

Another method I would use, though, to make it easier on the children is to make chores fun. Set the timer and ask them to "beat the timer" while they tidy. Have them lace up their running shoes and see how fast they can vacuum (while still getting it done). Let them clean while their own choice of music is blaring. If our attitude is one of "let's see how much fun we can make this", they're more likely to follow along. If our attitude is, "let's buckle down and work hard if it kills us," they're going to feel that it is, indeed, killing them.

Right now you likely have a lot of tidying to do to get ready for Christmas, or for company coming. Have the kids help tidy, even if they're only three. But try these methods, and see if they're more inclined to do it willingly.

We shouldn't put up with bad attitudes, but we shouldn't be tyrants, either. It's a hard balance to find, but once you do, kids are much happier!

Finally, here's a video of an interview I did on kids and chores. The interviewers were great, and it was a lot of fun:

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To Love, Honor and Vacuum

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At 3:02 PM , OpenID runningtherace said…

I have a friend who has her older children whistle while they work on an additional chore until they are in a positive mood. Then, they can stop that one and return to their regular list of chores. One child gets her mood in order very quickly (1/2 the toilet bowl or so) and the other child takes much longer before giving up their negative attitude, so my friend gets some extra help with that child!

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About Me

Name: Sheila

Home: Belleville, Ontario, Canada

About Me: I'm a Christian author of a bunch of books, and a frequent speaker to women's groups and marriage conferences. Best of all, I love homeschooling my daughters, Rebecca and Katie. And I love to knit. Preferably simultaneously.

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