A few weeks ago, I mentioned the need for balancing limits and choices through responsibility. As students show that they understand responsibility and use it wisely, their choices increase and boundaries expand. At home, the same can be true.
Children need to feel important at school and at home. One way to develop a grounded sense of self is through properly executed household chores. At school the students are responsible for classroom jobs. These jobs are explained and modeled by the adults, so the students know what the expectations are and how to complete them. Jobs are assigned and rotated, allowing everyone to know who is responsible for what. Through this process children are allowed to practice responsibility, gain ownership over their environment, and contribute to their school community.
Implementing this at home will provide benefits for your child in both family life and school. I suggest first having a family meeting in which “jobs” are discussed, defined and listed for the family. Then a discussion, with your child(ren)s input, about who does what, when, and if there will be a chance for rotation. There are many tools that families have developed over the years.
Some examples are:
A bucket or jar with the chores listed from which family members (adults too) draw items
A spinner system with the chores around the circle and family
members spin to determine their chore
Assigning jobs based on desire
Rotating the jobs each week so everyone does each job
Based on the ages of your family and the jobs you would like to see done by the family (as the adult, you do get to veto items or add items), you can determine the best method for this important first step.
Once everyone is on the same page and expectations are clear, you can determine when the jobs are done. Is it every day? Once a week?
Then determine who assesses the completion. We often start with the adults doing the assessing and modeling this for the students, but we move toward the students assessing each other. They need some guidance in this but can be very adept at it.
Joe is responsible for the bathrooms; Sue is responsible for doing the dishes.
Bathroom and kitchen area will be checked by mom for two weeks. Then, Sue will check Joe’s work; Joe will check Sue’s. Mom or Dad will continue to monitor, and if things start to slip, a family meeting is called to discuss what is going on. It is very important for the children to be able to state how they are feeling and what is going on with the jobs. Once they feel heard, they are more likely to be amendable to continuing their hard work.
In the above example, I focused on a family dynamic with mom and 2 kids. All families are different, but one rule that should remain consistent throughout the family dynamics is that all family members participate in the discussions and the work based on their responsibilities elsewhere. If someone is working two jobs, perhaps they do less around the home, but they still do something: ensuring there is toilet paper and milk in the house, two items they
can pick up on the way home.
What evolves is a realization that everyone contributes to the
family. Each person’s contribution is important from ensuring there is toilet paper to vacuuming and doing the dishes. When your child feels that his/her contribution is important and acknowledged, he/she is more likely to continue enjoying the work.
How these contributions are acknowledged are grounds for another family meeting. Perhaps you will do allowances or payment for each chore. I suggest that contributing to the household and community is the responsibility of all involved and does not necessitate or require a reward system. In fact, a reward system may detour the real purpose so that chores are done based on the reward instead of an expectation to contribute. Acknowledgement can be nightly or weekly thank-you or acknowledgements. How many of us simply require a
genuine, heartfelt thank you to feel appreciated? Children delight in knowing they have made a positive difference just by being thanked. If a reward system has already been set up, continue with that until you can find ways to move away
A handout is coming home today with a list of jobs that children can do based on their developmental ability. This comes from Kathryn Kvols, author of Redirecting Children’s Behavior. This is a great read and is used in parenting classes. In today’s parent memo, I’ve only touched on the role parents can play in helping their children learn to be responsible for the home environment and realizing that their contributions are important. You may find obstacles that prevent you from implementing these suggestions. I am happy (really) to talk to anyone about how to help their children becomeresponsible and capable within the home.