By Joey and Carla Link
October 20, 2021
Giving kids chores is normal for parents to do, but WHY do we? Is it just to make Mom and Dad’s life easier? It really doesn’t as it takes more time to get kids to do the chores and do them the right way, then check up on them to make sure they did them. Carla and I should have kept count of how many times we muttered to ourselves, “It would be easier to do this myself!”
SO, WHY give kids chores? The primary goal is to teach them responsibility and how to have a good work ethic. We did feel a moment of satisfaction recently while talking to one of our grown kids about her job. She was dealing with an employee who made her job harder as he wasn’t carrying his load and she said, “I wish their parents taught them how to work, like you taught me!”
Kids need to do chores, to learn how to work! They’re going to take their habits, good or bad, into the jobs they get as adults. So, what’s a good work ethic? First, let’s look at how you teach your kids to do chores.
How do parents teach kids to do chores the right way?
1.Tell them about the chore. Give them the overview for what you expect and how and when you expect it will be done.
2.Show them how you expect it to be done. Do you have a way you want their beds to be made? Their toys picked up? Clothes put away? Show them how to do it one day and watch them do it the next.
3.Set a boundary of when it needs to be done by. Tell them you want their bed made, hair combed and teeth brushed before they come to breakfast. If they don’t meet the boundary, they need to sit until they are ready to apologize and then get a logical consequence, which is taking away what they were misusing. What were your kids doing instead of their chores? That is what you take away for a period of time.
4.Teach them to be consistent by being consistent yourself. For 4 weeks, check to be sure your child is doing chores completely and on time every day. After that, do surprise checks for a couple weeks.
Doing chores the right way is the first step to acquiring a good work ethic. There is more to it than that however. This is what an appropriate work ethic looks like.
1.Require your kids to do their jobs without reminders from you and without lectures from you which will teach them to think and learn to manage their time as needed. This is how your child will take ownership of getting his/her chores and schoolwork done. This means you will need to give them the freedom to fail. A mom once asked me in frustration how she could get her daughters to get ready on time for school. They constantly missed the bus and she had to drive them to school. I (Carla) asked her if she and her husband were willing to let them get detention for being late. She had to think about that and ask her husband what he thought. They reluctantly agreed they were willing to try anything. This is what giving them the freedom to fail looks like. I told her not to push them and make them ask her to drive them to school. If she was busy, she didn’t need to drop everything to get them there when they asked. She charged each of them gas money and an hourly wage for her time. When the girls had to serve detention time and they realized this was the way it was going to be, they managed to get ready for school, eat breakfast and get on the bus on time.
2.Require them to do their chores and schoolwork the exact way they are supposed to be done. If you allow them to do sloppy work when doing their chores or turn in incomplete homework assignments, you are allowing them to develop work habits that will not allow them to succeed later on. Giving them the freedom to fail regarding turning in incomplete schoolwork or not getting papers done on time is a good reminder to them that their schoolwork is their responsibility, not yours. We told our kids they were going to have to get scholarships to go to college and their GPA accumulated from the day they started their freshman year of high school.
As far as chores, we required our kids to do the work at home the right way before we allowed them to do it for someone else with pay. Our son mowed our lawn for three summers before he bothered to do it the way I (Joey) had shown him it was to be done.
I (Carla) offered to babysit kids at our home so their parents could have a date night and had my girls take care of them. They learned to make a schedule of activities they could do with the kids, learned how to care for a fussy baby and to feed them and put them to bed when their parents had asked them to. They did this with me for several months before I told them they were ready to babysit on their own. I taught piano lessons and I told my kids they could begin teaching beginning lessons when they turned 14 yrs. old. I listened to their lessons and gave them pointers and watched to see if they used them before I started paying them for their time. Your kids are not going to do in public what they are not already doing at home.
“One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much, and one who is dishonest in a very little is also dishonest in much.”Luke 16:10