Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Teaching Children to work

My sister in law Deonne recommended the best book about chores and teaching your children responsibility. It's called "The Parenting Breakthrough" by Merrilee Browne Boyack. First of all I love Boyack's opinions about teaching children and discipline. In my opinion she has it spot on. She gives so many ideas to get children to do their chores and help out at home. My favorite part of the book is the "Master plan" She talks about how we as parents need to decide "How I want my children to turn out" Some of the things I thought of, I want my children to have their own testimony of the gospel, be able to keep a job and know the importance of hard work, love to learn and read, get a long with their family and want to come back and spend time with their aging parents =). After you do this then you need to set realistic goals and learning objectives to accomplish this. This is the part I love. By the age of three my child will: Learn to dress self, use the toilet independently, brush teeth, pick up toys, say prayers, etc. She has a list for each age that is really comprehensive but she recommends you supplement things to the list as well. Here are things listed on a five year old--Straighten room, vacuum, empty garbage cans, set table, clear table, make own lunch, warm up canned food, get allowance.
So I have really liked this to help my kids learn valuable lessons of life and they are really learning how to help around the house. I really believe children need to do more around the house then clean their room. As a part of living at your home their are things that can teach them it's not all about them. I have found that when they are in charge of cleaning something they start realizing that they have an impact -they are a contributing member of more then just themselves. I love this quote from the book.
" Doesn't it seem these days as if we find ourselves surrounded by work-phobic youth? These kids are largely a result of lazy parents; that is, parents who take the easy road. Sometimes I wonder if my children are the only ones who do chores beyond self-maintenance. Self maintenance tasks are pseudo-chores: 'make your bed, pick up your toys, brush your teeth. These don't contribute to the family. By and large, parents have forgotten how important work is in the home. They have a hard time getting their children to work, so they give up. It's easier to hire maids and gardeners or to do it all themselves." pg 51
I think about my grandparents generation and even my parents generation and they helped on the farm. Feeding the animals, picking vegetables, making bread. Because of so much convenience in our life it can be easier to just do it yourself. But I think we are doing our children a disservice. It will be harder for our kids to adjust to real life when they move away from home. Will they just automatically know how to do their own laundry, clean the bathrooms. I would rather have them already know because their are plenty of other things they need to adjust to.
I think summer is a great time to start implementing a new job plan, because your kids have more time at home. For a long time each of my kids had a cup of index cards. I wrote and drew a picture of the job on the card. When they got done with the job it went in the cup. When all their jobs were done they got to go play. My two older kids now have a chart that they mark their jobs off on. This has worked really well since some days they have different things to do. I have put the job chart to give you an idea on Google Reader.
I'm new to loading a document so let me know if this doesn't work for you. Your welcome to use this and modify it to the needs of your family. It was really easy to create and works great for my kids. I update it as necessary and then we laminate it so they can use it over and over. I get some dry erase markers and they mark it up each week. We do fun things when the kids need some motivation. Sometimes I put a M&M on each index card they can eat when they get a job done. We let them do half their jobs and then take a break and watch a cartoon. For some families I know it works better to do all the chores on Saturday or Friday because of all the extra activities planned in the middle of the week.
You will have struggles when you try to implement a new job chart. But just remember the big picture-you are teaching children responsibility and work values that will help them for the rest of their life. I believe it's worth it!
PS. I have a poll on my blog I'd love for your input. 7 more days till it closes.


  1. Certainly kids learn form their parents, so it’s very important for the parents to set an example. It’s a good idea to encourage kids to take part in homely activities.

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  2. I totally agree with Ricky. I have a job chart as well so the kids see that I am working right with them. Sometimes its fun to have them look at my job chart and have them choose what job I should do and then they mark it for me when I tell them it's done. They like to make decisions that effect other people.

  3. I always had chores growing up and with a big family we all relied on each other. I find with only 2 kids, ages 4.5 and 2.5 we all seem to do everything together instead of breaking things up. But I'm sure we'll have chore charts as they get older. Thanks for the tips.

  4. Great post! I will have to read this book. Thanks for the link!


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