The Gift of Chores
I really love and recommend a parenting approach entitled “Love and Logic” (L & L). The “Love” in L & L means that we love our kids so much that we are willing to set and enforce limits with sincere compassion and empathy. The “Logic” in L & L happens when we allow children to make decisions, affordable mistakes and experience the natural or logical consequences. When we balance this with sincere empathy, our children learn that the quality of their lives depends on the quality of their choices.
Chores are “contributions” to the family. These are a good tool to teach your children your values and help them feel important and needed. Here are the ABC’s of how to get chores done without reminders, without pay and without power struggles.
Ask the child to do a chore. (Don’t say “Do it now!)
Be quiet – don’t remind and don’t nag.
Consequences & empathy.
Love & Logic is about giving the kid tools for success and then hoping for plenty of small failures so they can learn to handle consequences of failure on a small scale. “Contributions” send the message, “Hey kid, we love you, we need you, you are an essential part of the family gang.” Every kid has a strong need to belong.
A – Ask the child to do a chore and give a deadline. Parents can help by modeling time management and resisting temptation to put fun first (work first, fun after). Even kids with special needs need to contribute to the family in whatever way they can.
Something that we’ve lost in America is the realization that if we really want to raise healthy kids, they need to be going into our families and our communities and serve without the expectation of something in return. And that’s one of the reasons why we do not believe in paying kids to do their chores.
If you aren’t paying kids for doing chores, how do they get money?
- Provide an allowance each week that isn’t enough
- Opportunity to learn money management
How do they earn more? Extra jobs around the house no one else wants to do.
B – Be quiet. Resist the urge to remind because if you remind, you ruin it. Kids can get addicted to reminding. If kids can learn to not need reminders & warnings, they are going to have a great advantage in life.
C – How do we get our kids to complete their contributions? Consequences with empathy will do the teaching. When kids don’t do their chores, it is a problem. Problems don’t have to be personal they just have to be solved.
Do we have to be upset with each other? Give lectures and threaten or rub salt in the wound? NO! Problem solved = when it’s over, it’s over.
- If parents do chores for child, then child repays parents by doing a job no one else wants to do for free. Child solves the problem – thank you, thank you, thank you.
- If parents do chores for child, then child goes without time consuming services the parent provides (taking them to practice, etc.) Child has to do without something = problem solved.
- If parents do chores for child, child reimburses parent by selling something that belongs to the child. No problem – I love you too much to fight with you.
Should I pay them or provide other types of rewards if child does their chores? NO. The reward comes from doing it – loving, helping, supporting family.
Family – We help each other because we love each other and we need each other.
Adapted from a L & L webinar, “The Gift of Chores.”