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Helping around the house

In every job that must be done
There is an element of fun.
You find the fun... and SNAP!
The job‘s a game.

Mary Poppins

If we were all as magical as Mary Poppins, household chores would be a breeze. Sadly tidying up the bedroom requires a good deal more than a mere snap of the fingers, but nonetheless it's a good idea to get your child involved in the day to day housework. After all, when they grow up they're going to need to be able to take care of themselves. And in any case, I'm sure you could use the help!

What's this all about?

John Covey, co-author of The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Families: A Proactive Family Guide Book says "There are always two reasons parents want their children to do chores - to get the job done and to help the children grow. If children don't do chores, how do they learn? How do they build personal responsibility?"

So where do you begin? Firstly consider the abilities of your child: what can they do? Aged around seven, you might not want them to be handling potentially hazardous cleaning materials but a simple tidy up is certainly not beyond their capabilities. Tasks such as putting their dirty clothes in the laundry basket, picking up their toys, making their beds and so on is a great place to start. Similarly, setting the table, loading the dishwasher, vacuuming and so on can be done - albeit with a little supervision at first.

How should you handle it?

Drawing up a rota works well - particularly if you're dividing up the tasks between more than one child. Draw up a grid of tasks and assign them to each family member. Place this somewhere prominent, eg on the fridge door, and once a task is completed give your child a sticker to pop on the chart. If possible try to vary the tasks, so that they learn new things.

So the rota's looking lovely and your child seems to have bought in to the idea - it's bound to go swimmingly, right? Wrong!

Expect some resistance - particularly if this is a new regime. When it comes to household chores there's always something better to do, so you may find that your child will ‘forget', or perhaps not complete the task to your standards. However, it's important for your child to learn how to do these things. We're talking real life skills here, so stick to your guns and make sure they complete the tasks they're given. Don't be tempted to step in and take over - even if it's taking ages!

Likewise if tasks are not completed don't be afraid to remove privileges: no TV until your bedroom's tidy can work wonders!

Finally, when tasks are completed, remember to praise your child for a job well done, and try to work in little rewards: a trip to the park, a game, a little TV time - whatever works for them.

Play & pretend

Once the chores are done, make time for some fun - why not play the Memory Game at home?

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