Make a clear and specific list of chores. Sit down with the whole family, invite an open discussion, and get everyone to agree on a day-by-day schedule that spells out household responsibilities. Include putting away dishes, sweeping the kitchen, dusting the furniture, sponging the counters, feeding the pets, and other basic jobs. Choose appropriate chores for younger and older kids.Then from this moment forth, expect your kids to be helpful and take an active role helping around the house. Remember that you're creating a home and not running a bed-and-breakfast establishment, so unless they're paying you rent and a salary, get your kids to start helping out.
Heard these sweet words from your darling offspring lately:"How much do I get if I help? That's not my job." If so, your kid may be suffering from the Big Brat Factor epidemic with a subdiagnosis: Unhelpfulitis. And watch out: this ailment is especially lethal to character development and can be damaging to family harmony.
Many factors play a role in producing unhelpful kids, but two stand out. First, we're expecting kids to be less helpful these days. For whatever reason—such as our hectic pace or their overscheduled lives—parents tend to excuse kids from helping: "His schedule is so tight: he needs time to relax. It's easier to do it myself" or "She works so hard in school, and needs a break."
Many kids go through a developmental period at two to four years old when they really want to be helpful to show off their new skills and please you. Unfortunately, we don't always take advantage of their innocent desires to help out, and so that temporary window of opportunity is closed.And is it really tough to open up again! Too often when older kids are asked to help us out, they expect to be paid, and all too often we open up our wallets and comply.The result is a gradual extinguishing of helping, supporting, caring attitudes fueling selfish, me-me-me attitudes instead.The first step to helping kids learn this new attitude is to get them off the couch and expect them to lend a hand. It's a good way to begin teaching them the virtues of helpfulness, diligence, and generosity that they will need for developing good moral character and becoming selfless, contributing members of society.And the sooner we start the better.
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