Doing chores next to each other builds family bonds and keeps things neat.
Don't kid yourself -- if you constantly feel like you're the only one who helps out around the house, you're probably right. Sure, your spouse should help more, but so could your preschooler. However, if you're waiting for your little one to spontaneously take an active interest in helping you around the house, you could be waiting a very long time. Organizing a fun chore chart for your child lets her know that her contributions are valued and necessary for making things run smoothly.
1Create a colorful table on a poster-board or whiteboard with a separate column for each day of the week and a horizontal row for each chore, similar to a weekly calendar. Cut out images of each chore from a magazine with your preschooler and paste the pictures next to the chore as a quick reference. A picture of someone carrying dirty dishes could indicate the chore of clearing the table. Only include chores you know your children can perform well with some instruction. Your 4-year-old might be able to successfully transfer dog food from the bag to the bowl if it's nearby, but she probably wouldn't be a good candidate for walking the dog or cleaning up his poop in the yard.
2Tape a board game spin wheel with a different chore on each section to the bottom of the chart, to build in flexibility and variability to your standard chore chart. Let each child spin the wheel and write their initials next to the assigned task. Not only does the spin wheel add a game element to the whole process, but it prevents one kid from always tackling the less desirable tasks.
3Complete a separate task alongside your kiddos so they see you as a collaborator in all this chore business. Load and fold the clean laundry while the child assigned to sorting laundry separates the lights from the darks. Once the job is complete, let each child place a fun sticker next to her finished task. This small, but validating, reward helps recognize her contribution in keeping your house livable and functioning. Some preschoolers will be motivated by glittery stickers alone, while others respond best to long-term rewards earned after completing a full week of chores, such as a special outing or meal at a favorite restaurant. According to Dr. Sears, use the reward system that works best for you and your family. The important thing is getting your preschooler to contribute early on!
- Resist the urge to finish or redo you're children's chores. Insist that they return and complete the task thoroughly if it's not up to a reasonable standard.Remind your kids one time to do their chores and then wait for the effects of skipping that task to set in. Your 5-year-old puts off setting the table? Tell her you can't serve dinner unless he puts out place settings, and offer this explanation to any other kids who inquire about dinner. Eventually, he'll get hungry enough to fall in line or he'll tire of his siblings' hungry nagging. If this happens with animal care, tell your child you're giving someone else his job because it's not fair for the pet to suffer.
Things You'll Need
- Board game spin dial