Q: We had house help for a long time but discontinued her services recently. I made it clear that now we have to all chip in and help around in the house. My children are willing to, but only if I offer some incentive. I detest doing that. Any ideas?
A: A key reason kids hate and complain when it comes to performing their assigned chores is because it is boring; children don’t understand how helping around the house is beneficial to them in any way. They also feel it acts as a hinderance to any activity or schedule they had in place.
For starters, make a list of the required chores that need to be done and plan them in such a way that they can be completed after school/tuition hours rather than making them do it first thing in the morning before school. Doing this will ensure that the children are more relaxed and relatively free as opposed to early morning, when they are stressed and pressed for time.
Remember you could face a lot of resistance from your kids. Make sure to not lose your cool and at the same time, exert your authority and explain that it is not just the kids, but even you both, as parents are going to help around the house as well. Point out the positives to helping out – they will be learning valuable life skills such as responsibility and organizational skills, and doing this will allow their parents to spend more quality time with them as they aren’t busy cleaning up after them all the time.
Make sure they understand your reasoning behind asking them to help out with the chores and that there will be consequences if they don’t keep to their side of the bargain. At the same time, make sure to not associate chore completion with punishments. This will result in kids harbouring resentment towards completing their duties and result in mixed messages.
It’s a good idea to build in a reward system, so they are rewarded each week for achieving everything on the list. For older kids, you can formalise pocket money (it will teach them to be financially responsible) and for younger children perhaps a regular small weekly treat (try not to make this food based). Positive expectations and remarks also go a long way in keeping a child motivated and taking away some of their privileges as a punishment if they fail to rise to the challenge.
Be consistent. It’s easy to give in and do it yourself to avoid confrontation and to avoid seeing your kids upset. But doing this will only encourage the kids to make more mistakes as they expect you to swoop in and complete the task. Remember to not get exasperated. Cede control to your kids in these situations. The important thing here is that they learn how to perform certain tasks so that completing these chores correctly can soon develop into a habit.
Finally, try and introduce elements of fun into it. Make a game out of tidying up for younger kids and set shorter time limits for older kids to help motivate them.
Russell Hemmings is a Dubai-based life coach and cognitive behavioural hypnotherapist (russellhemmings.co.uk). Our fantastic panel of renowned experts is available to answer all your questions related to fashion, well-being, nutrition, finance and hypnotherapy. Email your queries to firstname.lastname@example.org.