Take the Chore Out of Chores

kid helping fold laundry
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A Mommybites reader asked:

When do I start my kids on chores? Is my toddler too young? 

Chores are, well, a chore. There is a yucky connotation when the word CHORE is even uttered. “Family jobs” seems a more appropriate moniker and it is one that I use and prefer, as it’s a job that one is doing for the family. As a family – a team – everyone needs to chip in and help out to make the household roll and flow smoothly.

This teamwork and helping out can start early. I mean really early. No, seriously. Really, really, really, early. Like, once-your-kid-starts-movin’ early. What? When my kid starts moving? That’s insane. Should I have my infant do the dishes? No, of course not. Though if you have somehow managed to teach him that, more power to you. (That is a joke, folks. Do not try to teach your baby to do dishes, please.)

So what do I mean by starting young?

Begin when your baby can sit up solidly, or even before if you like. When it is clean-up time, hand her some toys to put in a bin or on a shelf. These activities will help her learn early on to put her things away when she’s done. It becomes habit, just something that children do, as part of their lives.

If there is a spill, give your one-year-old a towel and have him help you clean it up. When your walker is done eating, have him toddle to the sink and toss his plastic plates and cups into it. Think of the idea of family jobs/chores as a ladder that one climbs. At each rung, children learn something deeper and more advanced. This is the first rung on the ladder, the notion of taking responsibility for oneself and one’s things. On to the next rung.

Chores 2As your kids get older you can begin to give jobs that are a bit more consistent, part of the everyday routine. Your two- and three-year-old can put the spoons and napkins on the table for dinner. Sweep up after a meal – they do it at school. They can give the dog a treat after a walk. These are simple, one-step jobs that they will find fun or at least not too taxing. Give them some choices too. Ask if they would like to put the spoons and napkins or cups on the table. Now your child is learning that she is a helpful and important cog in the machine that you call family.

BUT WHAT IF MY CHILD WON’T DO HIS JOB?!?!?! If he puts up a fight, he just cannot move on. He can be upset, but you do not have to hang around and be yelled at or whined to.

“Your job is to put the spoons on the table. As soon as you do it, you can play. I hear that you do not like it, but it is your job. As I said, you can play as soon as you are done.”

So there you have it: how and when to begin family jobs. Envision that the goal of family jobs (chores) is to instill the idea of teamwork and a sense of responsibility for oneself and community. Children will learn that they are a part of something bigger than themselves, they are part of a family, a village, and like I keep saying, a community. In addition, family jobs instill independence in that they teach kids to take care of themselves and their surroundings.

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Brandi Davis, ACC, is a professional Parenting Coach, Parent Educator, and Author of O.K. I’m A Parent Now What? She can also be found on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and be sure to catch her parenting podcasts on iTunes. The goal of Brandi’s practice is to bring respect, calm communication, teamwork, and FUN into the home or classroom. To discover all that Child and Family Coaching can bring to your family stop by www.childandfamilycoaching.com.

The views and opinions expressed on this blog are purely the blog contributor’s. Any product claim, statistic, quote or other representation about a product or service should be verified with the manufacturer or provider. Writers may have conflicts of interest, and their opinions are their own.


5 thoughts on “Take the Chore Out of Chores

  1. The real kicker is that toddlers love to help. If we start early it simply becomes a habit and they learn that it takes all the members of the family to make things happen. Even when, as they get older, they gripe they are proud of their contributions.

  2. As a Montessori School Teacher, I love that Brandi is encouraging families to raise independent responsible children.

  3. I never get over Brandi’s consistency of parent application. I forget that my parenting job is to teach my child how to grow up. Thanks Brandi for keeping me on track.

  4. I love this idea. Responsibilities from the get-go. Excellent. The world would be a better place if more people started learning team work at an early age!!! Very important lesson for youngsters.

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