Chores help children prep for success

August 16, 2012 11:27:01 AM PDT
Back to school is a good time to start new rules and responsibilities for your kids.

Stacy Betzing's boys are six and nine years old. Two years ago she implemented a checklist of chores. She calls them "contributions."

"Making their beds. Coming down, ready to help. Helping maybe unload the dishwasher," she explained. "Helping to take out the trash. And practicing their writing or reading that definitely helps get them in the mode for going back to school and getting prepared for that."

As the first day of school approaches you may be considering the same. But parenting coach Dr. Deborah Fry says if you really want to succeed, give your kids some chore choices.

Dr. Fry explained, "These are some chores that need to be done in the morning. Which ones do you want to have? These are some things we need to do after school. Which of there are you going to pick?"

Dr. Fry says don't wait until the first day of school -- start now.

She said, "Put some time aside to actually begin that process before you even start school so that it's already in place when the school day starts. It's not like we're doing all this stuff new."

The most important thing when setting new structure in the home is to be engaged and consistent.

"So what's next? What's next on your chart? Has your chart been completed? So they're now self-regulating. And they are really developing what we call problem solving skills," Dr. Fry said.

One last tip -- Stacy says try to make it fun.

She said, "It's almost a competition between the two of them -- who can make their bed more neatly. And that's really neat to see that."

Something to keep in mind -- with younger children, start small. Don't overwhelm your kids by having them clean a playroom full of toys. Simple tasks like making the bed is a good starting point. As they get older, more complex chores like laundry are great ways for them to contribute.


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