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

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

61. If you have a hard time not criticizing your children when they are working, read out loud to them instead. They get personal time with you and they learn to love good books.

62. In evaluating a job ask the child in a non-critical way, "How could you have done this more efficiently?" Help her to see a systematic process to a task. For instance, when cleaning a bathroom, you empty trash, change towels, and with a used towel, clean mirrors, windows, tile, sinks, walls or door jams; clean toilet bowl, and floor on your way out. You try to plan so that you are working in a circle to ensure that everything gets cleaned, but you aren't wasting time backtracking.

63. As a method of discipline or as a teaching tool, if you have a child who consistently doesn't do his job or follow through on assignments, have the child write an essay on what happens when work isn't completed. Having her write an evaluation about how a situation was handled and how she could have done it more effectively can help her to think through how her actions or inactions have an effect on the whole family. Another consequence we have used is to make the shirker pay a sibling to complete her chores.

The goal is to help the child be a problem-solver and to look critically at new ways to accomplish a goal. Maybe she was simply bored or felt that it wasn't worth the effort. Think long term on value, character and choices. Don't get mired down in the day-to-day details of whether they swept the floor and got the dog hair in the corners.

64. Be sure to adjust the amount you ask of your children as they mature and become more involved in school activities. It is vital to their self-esteem that they know that they are still expected to contribute to the upkeep of the home. As long as they live in the family home and even when they return as married couples for short visits, they are still a part of the family and need to pick up after themselves as well as pitch in with other chores.

65. Encourage your children to set goals: daily, weekly, yearly and long term. Goals only work when they are personal ones. No matter how much you want your son to be on the honor roll, if it isn't his goal, he won't be successful in academics.

The power of written goals is amazing. Once they have been committed to paper and broken down into manageable steps, it is almost spooky how much more you will be able to accomplish in your day. You can give your children no greater gift than the power to believe in themselves and accomplish their goals. For information on setting family goals and making a family mission statement, I recommend Stephen Covey's book Seven Habits of Highly Effective Families. If you have teens or pre-teens check out his son's book Seven Habits of Highly Effective Teens.

66. Require some work from every family member daily. Then relax. If you are in a high powered or stressful job, you may find that you have a difficult time allowing either yourself or those around you to just be. There is a difference between leisure and laziness and we need to recognize that difference. We need to be able to have fun and joy in our life. We want to reach the point where we are doing less for our children and more with them.

67. If procrastination is a problem for you or your child, make a list five things that must be done before going to bed. Make sure that they are all things that can be accomplished in 20 minutes or less. It is surprising that so many tasks we put off take such a small amount of time to do and such a huge amount of time preparing to do!

Did you know that just 15 minutes a day adds up to ninety hours a year or a full 11 working days? So if you want to accomplish your dreams, do it 15 minutes at a time!

68. Have a regular time for chores, homework and music practice. We are all creatures of habit and like to take the path of least resistance. If there is a structured time to eat, work and go to bed, we tend to follow that schedule to a large degree.

69. Use weekly job charts including all family member names. You'll get much more cooperation and support when you have a visible reminder there is a family project. It is a good idea to post a menu for the week on the fridge door. When the kids come in and see that they are eventually going to eat, sometimes they will start preparations, if you are lucky. If they don't see that assurance, they assume its famine time and have a loaf of cinnamon toast and a gallon of milk.

70. Help small children remember what to do by relating it to the fingers on their hands. Don't give them so many toys or material possessions that it is overwhelming to them. Keep most of their things on a higher closet shelf and rotate them down to the children's level a few at a time.

71. Teach setting the table by remembering that left has four letters as does fork, so it goes on the left. Right has five letters so it matches knife and spoon. Holding up the hands of a toddler, help him to see the L formed by the extended thumb and palm. I still use that one during Tai Chi when the instructor has his back to me.

Help with manners by singing little ditties. For instance, like a little ship going out to sea, I dip my spoon away from me or when I dance, I cannot walk and when I chew, I cannot talk.

72. If an older child has trouble with follow-through, consider a written contract with agreed upon consequences. We make it mandatory in our family that before a teenager can get a driver's license; she must have accomplished at least three service projects. She can choose to read to the blind, rake a neighbors' yard or whatever, but it's important that she learn to go outside of herself and extend service to others. Teenagers tend to think they are the center of the universe and it is humbling to recognize how many other people are in need of assistance and aid.

73. To promote good habits, agree to a much-coveted reward at the end of 21 consecutive days of positive action. If they fail to do their chore without prompting, then the count starts over. By the end of the 21 days, they should have achieved mastery of the task and it will become automatic action and a valuable life skill.

74. Give children allowances or allow them to work for you and others to earn their own money so that they can learn to manage money. Managing money is one of the hardest skills for many adults. If you can give your child that advantage now, just think how much further ahead they will be as they mature.

Money is an emotion packed subject in many families. A father in one of my parenting classes taught us his system and I thought it was great. Each dollar the child receives from any source goes in four accounts (piggy banks, envelopes, or savings accounts) 10% goes to charity, 10% goes to savings for something the child wants that has a bigger price tag. 10% goes into an investment fund for long term goals like college or a car and 70% goes in their pocket to spend as they wish.

Their method of raising financially savvy children was that as parents, they volunteered to match the 10% investment fund. So, sometimes the child would defer pleasure for right now knowing that they could put extra in that fund and receive a much larger return.

Did it always work? Of course not. But they learned lessons along the way. Their children will be able to finish college without incurring student loans. I wish I could say the same for ours.

75. Do not tie allowances in to work performed in the family (unless it is a big job that you would be willing to pay someone outside the family to perform). If you pay your kids to make their bed and clean their rooms, when they get old enough to work for McDonalds, they will no longer need that incentive. Plus, they might develop the habit of thinking, what's in it for me? It is good to understand that often the only benefit we receive is a good feeling of a job well done.

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

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

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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