Hudson Valley Parent

HVP September 2016

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20 Hudson Valley Parent n September 2016 By MALIA JACOBSON I n theory, giving kids household chores seems like a winning scenario for everyone involved as kids gain responsibility and parents finally get some extra help with the dishes, the dog, and the never-end- ing piles of laundry. But all too often, parents find that getting a child to finish a job proves to be more work than the actual chore itself. Letting kids off the hook can seem like the easy way out, but it's a mis- take, says Judy H. Wright, parent ed- ucator and author of 77 Ways to Get Your Kids to Help At Home - because household chores breed confidence, competence, and success. "I've had teachers tell me that they can spot the students who do chores at home," she says. "It gives children confidence when they're allowed and expected to contribute to the family." If you could use a little more help around the house, there are ways to get everyone from the pokiest preschooler to the most petulant pre-teen to pitch in. Little helpers Parents often aren't sure wheth- er tots can or should do household chores, but they can be a develop- mental boon to young kids. "We try to help parents see how chores can fit in to a child's healthy development," says child devel- opment specialist Uschi Wells of Imprints, a parent education orga- nization in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. "Giving a two-year-old a task like filling the cat's water dish or carrying a pile of laundry builds their fine motor and gross motor skills." Toddler and preschool-aged kids (age 2 to 5) often enjoy helping their parents, making early childhood is an excellent time to start with a few small chores, Wells adds. The key to soliciting cooperation from young children is to make it fun, she notes. Find jobs a young child enjoys, like dusting baseboards, sorting laundry, or unloading silverware from the dishwasher. Loving limits The late elementary years (ages 6 to 11) are a time of social and emo- tional growth, and children become more concerned with independence than with pleasing their parents. That can mean that the sweet child who used to cheerfully sort socks and make her bed may start to shirk the simplest household task. And spurts of physical growth and hormonal changes toward the end of elementary school leave kids justifi- ably tired at the end of the day. Tweens should still help, but parents may need to enlist a little creativity to get them off the couch. Wright recommends giving jobs with a time limit attached: a child must feed the dog before he eats dinner, for example. Take on bigger jobs like bedroom cleaning on Saturday mornings be- fore the weekend rush begins with a regular one-hour "work party" (com- plete with tween-approved tunes). Teen time crunch Between 7 a.m. classes, af- ter-school jobs, and heavy homework loads, it may seem like teens are too busy for chores. They're either con- stantly on the go or sleeping. During the busy teenage years, some parents relax rules about household chores to allow teens to focus on schoolwork. That's fine, Wright says, but the teens still ben- efit from contributing to the house- hold. "Chores help teens build skills like planning, time management, and creativity that they'll use in the working world," she says. Teens who are short on time can flex their growing negotiation prowess - an important skill for workplace success - by trading tasks with siblings. "It's good training, no matter what the future holds," Wright says. Malia Jacobson is a nationally published journalist and mom of three. Her latest book is Sleep Tight, Every Night: Helping Toddlers and Preschoolers Sleep Well Without Tears, Tricks, and Tirades. Ending the chore wars: Getting kids to help around the house

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