101 Ways to Get Your Kids to Help at Home Part Four

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Here is Part four of 101 Ways to Get Your Kids to Help at Home.

31. Get to know your children as friends so that you will know what incentives will work with them. The only way you get to know them is to talk, listen and work with them. You don't want to be their pal, but you do want to be their friend. The most sought after attribute in friendship is being helpful. When there is mutual respect and friendship, we want to help. It is not competition, but cooperation. Win-win for everyone involved.

31A. Obtain a book from the library on learning styles. Perhaps your child has to have a detailed job description or must be shown repeatedly how to do a task. Some children not only need to know what the job is, but why it is important in the scheme of things and how it affects them personally.

This information is helpful for them in school situations also. Work closely with their teachers so that they will approach teaching your child in a manner that will maximize the learning experience. In general 80% of us are visual and learn by seeing and observing. 10% are auditory

and learn by people telling us what needs to be done and how to do it and another 10% are tactile which means we learn best with hands-on teaching.

The problem in families comes when a parent who is auditory tries to tell his visual son what has to be done. Unless the son can form a picture in his mind, he simply doesn't get it and they both end up frustrated.

32. Do not expect a 35-year-old's job performance from a 10-year-old. In fact, you will be disappointed if you expect a ten-year-old job from a ten-year-old unless he or she has been shown how to do the job. Everyone is set up for disappointment when our expectations are too high or too rigid to fit a particular child at a particular age under particular circumstances.

When we express our disappointment or discouragement to the child, it's like allowing a leaking pipe to go un-mended under the sink. You may not notice it for a long period of time, but eventually it will rot out the floorboards and do permanent damage.

Unrealistic expectations, as well as no (or very low) expectations can eat away at a child's self-respect and self-esteem. Children rarely question exactly what we expect of them, but only whether they are personally adequate to do it. As your child works on developing new skills, make sure that she knows that your expectations are realistically attainable and are coupled with unconditional love and a firm belief in her ability to succeed.

Good encouragement phrases help them to keep trying; "I have confidence in your ability to find a solution to this problem" or "You seem like the kind of boy who will keep trying."

34. Be aware of physical or emotional limitations. Remember that sometimes a child can't ride a two-wheeler in March, but is sailing down the street by June. Just because your child can't physically mow the lawn right now, instead of making him feel like a failure, talk to him about how we grow and develop. Offer him another try again in two months. Some children call themselves dumb or stupid because they can't do something. We all need to understand that being smart and competent is a process. We keep learning and growing. It is only when one gives up that one reaches as far as one is able to go.

35. Do not plan on a ten-year-old's priorities to be the same as yours. He really is not offended by the tennis shoes on the dining room table, nor will he understand why such things upset you. However, one of the most powerful forces in human relationships are our expectations. We can influence a person's behavior by changing our expectations of that person. Expecting that our children won't finish the job and that we'll be forced to jump in at the last minute almost guarantees that is what will happen. However, if we expect our child to complete his assignments (and he knows we will not take over and save his fanny when he doesn't) he soon learns how much easier it is to live up to his commitments.

36. Make your compliments specific rather than general. Zero in on what they did right. Did you know that studies show that for every one thing a child does wrong he does nineteen things right? The key to great self-esteem is let your children know their worth. It is important to recognize improvement and effort, not just accomplishment.

37. Compliment the skill as well as the task. Say, "Wow, you really know how to organize and categorize things," rather than just, "Thanks for putting the groceries away". Skills are transferable to other areas of life.

38. Work before fun gives an incentive to get the work done quickly. We used a Saturday Adventure in our family. When all the Saturday chores are done (usually 2-3 hours of deep cleaning to compliment the daily pickups and ten minute work blitzes) we would all go to the movie, the art museum, or the mall. Even if the adventure were a game of tag or a water fight in the backyard, you'd be surprised how much more quickly the work gets done.

39. Establish a habit that the kitchen has to be cleaned before the next meal or snack can be started. It is simply too hard to cook in chaos. One of the most productive quality times available to families is preparing meals together: one child can chop vegetables and another can set the table while the parents do other necessary tasks to get the meal ready. Even if it is just Mac and cheese and hot dogs, preparing meals together provides opportunities for visiting and catching up with family news and daily events.

40. Establish a habit that breakfast is eaten after we are dressed and have made our beds. Dressing and making a bed somehow takes only five minutes when done before breakfast and take forever if done after breakfast. If it is the responsibility of your child to see that the pets are fed and watered, he should be required to do that before he sits down to eat.

41. Not every job can be made fun; some are just rotten and need to be gotten through. However, scrubbing the floor really can be a great family adventure. Collect a bunch of thick cotton socks and have everyone in the family get in swim suits and then fill spray bottles with a cleaning solution and let them spray away on the vinyl. Then you just skate away. The more you slide and rub, the cleaner the floor. The built-up dirt and grime may need to be worked on with a scraper, but even that is fun if everyone is doing it. Then throw the socks in the washer, rinse the floor with clear water and when everyone gets out of the tub, curl up on the sofa and watch a movie together.

42. Work always goes faster with music, so here is a trick to remember if you are listening to the radio: everybody works for the duration of one song. Most songs are three minutes long, so see how much you can do before the tune ends. And be sure to sing along!

43. Encourage family members to bring their own dirty laundry to be washed and to put away their own clean clothes. Invest in baskets or use cardboard boxes. Ideally, each family member has a laundry basket to use for accumulating dirty clothes and carrying them to and from the laundry area. Baskets by the washing machine can be used for sorting the laundry into colored, lights, and white batches. Consider having a focus session on reading the care labels of clothing and other items so that an angora sweater isn't accidentally washed in hot water. It is good to have a central location for items that need to go to the dry cleaners. By the time children are 10 to 12 years old, they are old enough to do their own laundry and help with the laundry needs of others if necessary.

44. Put all the clean socks in a plastic basket or box and have a family sock folding party one night a week while you watch TV. I have a wonderful method of darning socks with holes in them or dealing with socks whose mates have gone to the big sock heaven in the sky: I simply stand over the wastebasket and say, "Oh, darn!" as I throw them away. However, my husband Dwain showed us a system for keeping socks together and simplifying the whole process: socks can be pinned together before they are put in the laundry bin. It works!

45. Play Cinderella. Everyone works like a scullery maid until a specified hour, and then all work ceases, best clothes are put on, and off you go to the ball, movie, dinner, play or some other long awaited event.

Next: 101 Ways to Get Your Kids to Help at Home Part Five

Previous: 101 Ways to Get Your Kids to Help at Home Part Three 

Judy H. Wright is a parent educator, family coach, and personal historian who has written more than 20 books, hundreds of articles and speaks internationally on family issues, including end of life. You are invited to visit our blog at www.AskAuntieArtichoke.com for answers and suggestions which will enhance your relationships. You will also find a full listing of free tele-classes and radio shows held each Thursday just for you at www.ArtichokePress.com.

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