Teaching Independence Through Chores
As soon as my children are old enough to follow simple directions, I teach them about chores. This usually happens sometime in the second year of their life. At that point, I start a chore rock-jar system, where they are assigned one chore for each age. My 3-year-old is responsible for three weekly chores, and my 5-year-old five chores. When they complete a chore, they are awarded a rock that they place in their rock jar. When their jar is complete, they choose a reward, which could be a special date with Mommy or Daddy or a toy (child's choice). I have been using this system since my oldest was 3, and it works!
When I feel that they have the skills to understand the concept and start participating in small chores with assistance, we decorate their rock jar with paint. I feel that having them decorate the jar gives them a sense of ownership. Also, what child doesn't like to paint? Once the jar is dry, I introduce the reward system to them immediately. Before long, they are looking for chores to complete around the house.
Like any other reward system, this one is not fail safe. At times, I forget the rocks or my sons just don't seem to care enough to want to complete any chores. On those days, I remind myself that they are just kids. There are going to be days when they feel lazy or distracted, and that's OK.
The funny thing about teaching your kids about cleaning is that they begin to see the world through different eyes and become mini moms. Here are just of the few recent phrases I've heard coming from my kids:
5-year-old to 1-year-old: Ryker, don't put your dirty hands on the window. I just cleaned it.
5-year-old: Mom, these baseboards are so gross.
3-year-old: Can I vacuum the crackers I spilled?
These words are like music to my ears. Cleaning is not my favorite, yet I love a clean house. The more little helpers I have the faster we can accomplish a clean house and then move on to the fun.
How do you encourage your child to help around the house?