Creative Child

Should You Drop Chores?

by Rebecca Eanes

Parents spend a lot of time and effort figuring out a way to get their children to do their chores. Often, kids don't want to do them and parents resort to nagging or even threatening a punishment, and this leads to stress for everyone and certainly decreases the peaceful atmosphere at home.

Maybe we should just drop chores altogether.

We want to raise responsible children who do their part, right? And we should! So, I'm certainly not suggesting that we don't expect our kids to make their beds or clean their rooms. I'm suggesting we take a whole new approach.

This ideally starts when the child is just a toddler, but certainly older children can pick up this new concept as well. It's really the spirit – the attitude – in which we approach getting jobs done that makes all the difference. Think about how you normally go about getting your child to do chores. What is your attitude about chores like? Also think about your attitude while you do your own chores. You can bet if there is any negativity, our intuitive children will pick up on it. Truthfully, the word “chores” itself is laced with negativity. We are expecting a battle before one even starts, and we often get what we expect.

I've tried chore charts of various kinds, and they were always annoying at best and a complete failure at worst. If I offered my kids rewards for completing chores, I felt like they weren't learning any real responsibility; they were just jumping through hoops to get a treat. Every single thing they did came with the question, “How many points did I get for that?” When they had separate chore charts with no rewards attached, it incited sibling rivalry. “I have more check marks than you! I'm winning!” I didn't want to fuel competition either.

At last, I decided to drop chores altogether and come at this from a whole new angle – one where we are a team working toward the same goal.

1. If you still have toddlers, invite them to do things alongside you. If we shoo them away from the laundry pile so they don't mess up our neatly folded pile, it's no wonder they resist when we start asking them to fold the laundry. It will be messy and take longer for sure, but toddlers generally love to be involved and help out, and inviting them to do so gives them a sense of accomplishment and teaches them early that they can be involved in taking care of the home. Continue doing this as they grow. Keep it light and fun, enjoying your time together. Before you start working as a team, make sure you know the five things your toddler needs you to know.

2. Weekly family meetings are a great place to talk about contributions to the family work. Notice the word “contributions” and not “chores.” It has a better, more positive feel. If your children are older, you can use a family meeting as a kickoff for this new way of living and working together. I tell my children that, to live in harmony, we all have to do our parts. I explain that a family is like a truck. If one part falls off, the truck doesn't run correctly (or maybe not at all!).

More chore alternatives on page 2..

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