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

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

76. Offer to pay the child for jobs you would normally pay someone else to do. However, start them out at an apprentice wage until they have mastered the skill. It is also a great teaching tool to have them submit a bid for the job they want to have. Have them list the desired wage, conditions of employment, when it will be accomplished and method of payment. Teach them the art of negotiation -- they will then be in a much better position when they enter the real working world.

77. Give each family member ten dollars and a calculator and go to a grocery store. Then have each person buy and prepare a meal for the family utilizing all the basic food groups. The first week the entire meal must be purchased at the store. None of the supplies at home may be used. The second week, staples from the freezer, cupboards and refrigerator may be used. With prior planning and by using coupons and sale items, they may spend less and they can pocket the difference. Encourage them to set the table for the meal with linen, china and candles. This is a wonderful exercise that helps children learn about shopping, reading, math, nutrition, budgeting, cooking, and entertaining, impulse buying vs. planning. Plus, it is just plain fun.

78. When your child has cleaned his/her room especially well, suggest he/she invite the family into the room to play a game of UNO or Monopoly.

79. Respect privacy. Do not enter your child's room to clean unless you are invited. If a mess bothers you, close the door or insist it be cleaned up. A child's room is his responsibility, not yours. Our rule was, we would never invade your privacy unless your actions warrant it. If we think you are doing something that will endanger your life, then all bets are off. We will do whatever, however, whenever to help you, if you cannot or will not help yourself.

80. Establish family traditions. Traditions make everyone feel more united and a part of the group. Our very favorite is writing love letters to one another early in December. We have included our extended family and close friends. The letters are placed in the Christmas stockings. On Christmas Eve we sit down to a wonderful candle-lit dinner of pizza and soda pop and we read the letters privately. This is an opportunity to build new bridges and forgive old hurts. It reinforces the love that we have for each other. The letters are not earthshaking and sometimes they are purchased cards, but they carry a sincere message.

My older daughters have told me that many times, when they are far away from home and being hit in the face with the realities of life, that they will go back to their jewelry box or bottom drawer and pull out those letters. They know that somewhere in this world there are people who love and appreciate them and support their endeavors.

81. Don't just clean for company. It makes the family dread to have anyone come over. I used to say that I needed to have a Tupperware party or baby shower a couple of times a year just so I would clean out the corners. But now I have decided that it is better to have people come and see lint on the carpet and dirt in the corners than to deny the family the social skills gained from having guests in our home.

82. Establish an area that stays reasonably clean and clutter-free so that you won't die of embarrassment if someone drops in. Keep the living area picked up daily. Allow a little more flexibility in bedrooms and the family room.

83. Avoid making continual threats or punishments. They seldom have permanent positive results. Motivation that comes from fear of punishment or losing a privilege is usually short-lived. The only kind of motivation that really works and has sustaining value comes from within the person. Don't overuse the martyr act. They stop listening after the first few tears, anyway, and it just makes them feel guilty and lowers their self-esteem.

84. Correct your children privately. Don't embarrass them in front of their friends. A good rule of thumb is, Praise in public, correct in private.

85. Examine your heart and make sure that you are doing your fair share in the household, but that you are not bearing the burden of home maintenance. It is important that you be a role model in doing the work quickly and efficiently so that you have time to develop your talents and interests. By your deed and example, you can show that work is enjoyable in and of itself and that when the whole family pitches in on essentials, you will all have extra time to pursue outside interests.

86. Teach your children to do community service. It is super important that they learn to do work without getting paid for it every time. We all have an obligation in life to help make the world a better place by sharing our time, talent and resources. Recycling is a wonderful way to teach about the earth and our responsibilities to other people and living things on this planet.

87. Have a regular family council. Statistics from the former U.S. Department of Health, Education and Welfare indicate that by holding a regular family gathering for one hour a week, whether it be for fun, talk, or formal instruction, you reduce the probability of your child having serious problems with delinquency, alcohol, and drugs by up to 42%.
The family council is a wonderful venue to discuss family goals, plans or schedules. If you would like more information on family councils, go to our website www.artichokepress.com and request the free special report.

88. The best time to talk to teenagers and ask for their cooperation in household matters is at midnight at your kitchen table with a pizza between you. The worst time is when they are going out the door with their friends.

89. To keep discussions from escalating into battles and blame sessions use the Kleenex box tactic. No one can talk unless he is holding the box or a talking stick. This allows everyone to have his or her say before giving attention to the next person. No interruptions or "yeah, buts" are allowed. This is especially good for shy or easily intimidated children.

90. Do not allow the phone or visits from friends to interrupt your family council or the dinner hour. You need uninterrupted time in order to create the climate that encourages meaningful dialogue. Dr. Stephen Glenn, during a meeting of educators, said that the average child over ten years of age (in a two-parent home) has 14 and a half minutes of interaction with his parents in a 24-hour period. Parents spend 12 minutes of this time issuing warnings or correcting things that have gone wrong, leaving about two minutes per day, or 12 to 14 minutes per week, of open, individual communication time. This would include collaborative activities and even working together. (It does not include watching television.) Most families don't even eat together. This average is so low that it would be easy to increase parent-child time 100 percent just by eating dinner together.

When I first read this statistic, I was shocked and sure that we did much better, but we didn't! I timed the interaction between a 12-year old and me and it was filled with lots of instructions, orders, and unanswered questions with grumbling on both sides. From that day forward, we had a sit-down dinner every night, no matter how late and we recommitted to weekly family councils.

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

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

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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