By Guest Blogger Dr. Ankita Patel 

With Spring right around the corner, comes the dreaded spring cleaning. But here is a way to get the whole family involved – even the kids.

As parents, we get into a habit of just doing things ourselves because it is more efficient and done correctly. However, if kids are given the chance to do some of these tasks, they may surprise you. Helping with chores at an early age teaches children responsibility. The American Academy of Pediatrics has provided these useful tips for getting your kids on board.

1. Carefully spell out the tasks your child must perform. Make sure your child understands what is expected of him or her on a daily and a weekly basis. Star charts or chore lists posted on the refrigerator should clearly show what your expectations are and serve as a helpful reminder of what needs to be done without you having to remind them. With a school-age child, particularly one who has not taken on responsibilities before, you should introduce one new task at a time; if you spring a long list on them, they will probably fail, get discouraged and rebel. Be more specific- instead of saying “clean your room”- say “put your clothes in the closet, books on the shelf, toys in the toy box and make your bed.”

2. Honest praise from you can be the most effective way of motivating your child and guaranteeing her success. As your child completes a regular task, praise them and the job they did. Initiating tasks on their own without a reminder, completing a special task or doing an unusually good job with a regular one might merit a reward of some sort. Be liberal with your words of praise and encouragement. Kids aim to please and will worker harder with positive reinforcement.

3. Your child may be greatly helped in remembering to do chores if your family life has a structure and routines. Encourage them to do their chores at the same time each day. Routines of other activities – including meals, homework, play and bedtime – also can teach organization and help develop responsibility.

4. When your child does not complete their chores and other responsibilities, it may be necessary to discipline them. For example, you might decide to revoke certain privileges or special activities that mean a lot to them. Although some parents may feel that badgering or scolding a child to the point of starting an argument will get them to accept more responsibility, this approach is rarely effective. Rewarding successes and providing encouragement is always much more effective.

5. Let go of the idea of perfection. It’s okay if the floor isn’t spotless- focus on the effort, not perfection.

6. Make it fun. Spend 10 minutes every night after dinner and before bed to have a family “mad dash” clean up. Everyone cleans as hard and fast as they can for 10 minutes. You will be surprised as to how much you can all get done together especially when racing the clock.

7. Make sure that chores are age appropriate. Here is a list of chores listed by age:

 

Chores for children ages 2 to 3

  • Put toys away
  • Fill pet’s food dish
  • Put clothes in hamper
  • Wipe up spills
  • Dust
  • Pile books and magazines

 

Chores for children ages 4 to 5

Any of the above chores, plus:

  • Make their bed
  • Empty wastebaskets
  • Bring in mail or newspaper
  • Clear table
  • Pull weeds, if you have a garden
  • Use hand-held vacuum to pick up crumbs
  • Water flowers
  • Unload utensils from dishwasher
  • Wash plastic dishes at sink
  • Fix bowl of cereal

 

Chores for children ages 6 to 7

Any of the above chores, plus:

  • Sort laundry
  • Sweep floors
  • Set and clear table
  • Help make and pack lunch
  • Weed and rake leaves
  • Keep bedroom tidy

 

Chores for children ages 8 to 9

Any of the above chores, plus:

  • Load dishwasher
  • Put away groceries
  • Vacuum
  • Help make dinner
  • Make own snacks
  • Wash table after meals
  • Put away own laundry
  • Sew buttons
  • Make own breakfast
  • Peel vegetables
  • Cook simple foods, such as toast
  • Mop floor
  • Take pet for a walk

 

Chores for children ages 10 and older

Any of the above chores, plus:

  • Unload dishwasher
  • Fold laundry
  • Clean bathroom
  • Wash windows
  • Wash car
  • Cook simple meal with supervision
  • Iron clothes
  • Do laundry
  • Baby-sit younger siblings (with adult in the home)
  • Clean kitchen
  • Change their bed sheets

 

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