“You have to clean your room today!”
“How many times have I told you load the dishwasher?”
“Why is the trash still here? You were supposed to take it out!”

Sound familiar?  I hear often from my clients that they want their kids to do more chores.  Or simply do the chores without having to be reminded.  Isn’t that our goal as parents – to get our kids to be independent?

When I hear this issue arise during coaching sessions, I have a few basic questions for my clients to gauge how we can move them from the chore-police to the chore-delegator.

Here are the questions:

How old is the child?
How have you taught the child to do the chore?
How have you set up for them to manage the expectations?

Let’s go through the first question: Age.

Age is key to setting the expectation for your child.  Kids develop different skills as different times, and what you can expect from your 12 year old, isn’t the same as what you can expect from your six year old.  So, getting on target with developmental levels is important. If you are unsure what is age appropriate for your child, click here for a handy article.

Second question: How have you taught the skill you want them to perform?

Often times we give our child a request that they may not be able to accomplish without being taught it first. So, if you want your child to do the dishes, or take out the trash, you need to give them a lesson – or 10 – on it first.  Show them how to do the dishes, what it looks like when it is done the way you want, and then support that by doing it with them for the first 5-10 times until they are ready to be independent with it.  Same with cleaning their room, or walking the dog.  Spend the time to actually teach them the skill – that’s where true parenting comes in.

Last question:  How will they manage their chores?

I’m not intending for you to make a chore chart here, although that may be something you like, I’m looking for a way to support your child while they are still performing the new skill they just learned.  If they’re cleaning the kitchen, or their room, or even something with less steps like taking the trash out, you can support them with written instructions or a check list of steps.  Also, in our home, we post reminders in the rooms as needed.  For example, in the garage by the trash cans I have posted a sign that states “Do not put out the small trash can” and “All recyclables must be INSIDE the can” to prevent my son from putting out extra stuff resulting in extra charges.

Once you get your children set up for success, by giving them developmentally appropriate chores, teach them how to do it, and set them up for success by giving them reminders, you’re on your way to having independent helpers!  Now, how you get them off their video games so they can clean, well that’s a whole different post. 😉

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