Friday, 17 August 2012

Teaching Kids to Work

Submitted by Ashlee --

This is a chore chart we instituted several weeks ago in response to a truly horrible day.
I had reached a breaking point with uncooperative and lazy attitudes.

The chore chart works thusly: First thing in the morning I write down what chores need to be done. After breakfast the boys must accomplish their list of chores before any play. You will notice there are 3 boxes to check off. This is to address the particular problems we had been experiencing.
The first is to indicate that the chore just plain old got done... I always inspect their work to make sure that things were done properly.
The second is for staying on task (ie. I shouldn't have to tell you to "keep cleaning!" 20,000 times before the job is actually finished. I don't actually enjoy being a nag!)
The third box is for having a good attitude. Any whining, fighting, complaining, eye rolling, huffing or other like behavior is not permitted. You are part of a family. We all contribute to the cleanliness and happiness of this home.
If they get an "O," in any of their boxes I assign an additional chore so that they may try again.

Things have vastly improved since we started doing chores this way.
The boys are great little workers and their help has genuinely helped me keep the house cleaner. I give them chores that actually need to be done!
It's given me the chance to teach them loads of new and necessary skills and I have been surprised by what they are actually capable of accomplishing. They can sort laundry, clean all the different parts of a bathroom, pick up entire rooms, put dishes away, dust, wipe, organize... all kinds of things!
We genuinely have a good time working together each morning, and I am hopeful that they are learning good lessons like: Work before play, etc.

The system has been in place long enough now that it is simply an expectation. We have much, much less push-back when I tell them what they are doing, and they even seem to be proud of the job well done!


*** Listen to Music While you Clean.  It's the "Whistle While You Work," principle.  Everything is easier when you have a song to work to!  It makes the whole house feel different and happier.  I have a Pandora Station with Disney music that they like, CD's with Children's Music, or sometimes I just put on "Mom," Music - making sure I choose something uplifting and peppy.***

***Properly Teach your Children What you Expect.  Showing them how to properly get something done by modeling the chore first, and then staying with them as they do it themselves for the first few times alone is key.  They need to know exactly what is expected of them and how the job is to be done.  This helps prevent future arguing or having to go back and do something again.  It also shows that you care enough to spend time teaching them and helping them succeed.***

***Do Your Own Chores at the Same Time.  I like to be working in other areas of the house when my kids are doing a chore that they have mastered.  I think this shows them a few things.  First, that I trust them in their abilities to accomplish what I assigned.  Second, that I am not asking them to do something that I am not doing myself.  Third, it gives me the opportunity to show them that I enjoy working and getting things done.  I hope my example of working without complaining, enjoying the work, and enjoying my finished product will rub off on them.  How can I expect them to not complain if they see me complaining?***

***Think About What You Hope To Teach Before Setting the System.  You have seen how me and my husband set up our chore system... this may or may not be a good way for YOU to do it.  We had specific problems that we were trying to address and specific things we were trying to teach.  What YOUR goals are should determine how you do it in your home.  IE- Do you pay your children for their chores or not?  Do you set a specific time each day to clean or not?  Do you work all together as a team on one job or do you divide and conquer?... There are no "right," answers to these questions, it's all about what you are hoping to teach.***

***Praise Your Children and Thank Them for a Job Well Done.  Give a hug.  Say "Thank You."  Do a high five.  Admire and praise their work.  Play a game together afterwards.  Do SOMETHING to show them that you appreciate their efforts.  Children have the same needs as adults to feel accepted and appreciated!***

***Split up Bickering/Easily Distracted Kids.  This may sound simple but it took me a minute to figure out!  I have learned that for my 2 boys we are doomed from the get go if they are working together on a task.  They inevitably do one of 2 things: Fight about who is doing the work and who is slacking off.  OR... Forget the job altogether and play.  Having them work on separate tasks in different areas of our home sure helps!

***Stick with it Because IT MATTERS!  Some days no matter what tricks you pull out of your hat it just doesn't go well.  I know sometimes I think "This would be so much easier to just DO MYSELF!!!" But we can't stop.  I want my children to someday be responsible men and contributing fathers.  The only way they will learn is by consistency and love.  When I get tempted to quit I remember this quote by Julie B. Beck from her General Conference Talk "Mother's Who Know.":

"Mothers who know are nurturers. This is their special assignment and role under the plan of happiness.5 To nurture means to cultivate, care for, and make grow. Therefore, mothers who know create a climate for spiritual and temporal growth in their homes. Another word for nurturing is homemaking. Homemaking includes cooking, washing clothes and dishes, and keeping an orderly home. Home is where women have the most power and influence; therefore, Latter-day Saint women should be the best homemakers in the world. Working beside children in homemaking tasks creates opportunities to teach and model qualities children should emulate. Nurturing mothers are knowledgeable, but all the education women attain will avail them nothing if they do not have the skill to make a home that creates a climate for spiritual growth. Growth happens best in a “house of order,” and women should pattern their homes after the Lord’s house (see D&C 109). Nurturing requires organization, patience, love, and work. Helping growth occur through nurturing is truly a powerful and influential role bestowed on women."

That's what it's all about!


  1. Um I LOVE this post! I am going to email it to my husband. I would not be surprised if we discussed it at family night tonight or in the near future. We need some cleaning routines around here! thanks, Ashlee!

  2. Ashlee is awesome and has some really good ideas. My plan is to have a big garden and lots of goats and if the kids don't work they don't eat. No I am just kidding. Kind of.