101 Ways to Get Your Kids to Help at-Home Part Two

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

6. Have a job jar for each member of the family. On pieces of paper, identify specific jobs that are small, are not time consuming and are appropriate for age and ability. These jobs can be figured out in a family meeting session, with input from all members. Besides having jobs in the jars put in a few bonus items, like have a cookie or take a walk around the block.

7. Sing together while you work. As a PBS consultant for the Ready to Read Program, I know how important it is to sing, talk and read to your babies and young children. Be sure to recite nursery rhymes with your youngsters, and then let them fill in the rhyming words. For older children, it is fun to memorize poetry as a group. One family we know listens to audio books while they work on large projects. An audio book allows everyone in the family to listen together while they work together.

8. Have a child pick up ten items and have a parent try to guess what has been picked up.

9. Pick up things by color. Call out a color and have everyone put away only items that are that color. A variation on that theme is to have the children pick up toys that make a noise, or that have wheels or that look like animals. This is a great sorting and organizing skill that will help them in other areas of their lives.

10. Have a child put away as many items as the number of years he or she is in age. Then you pick up as many things as you are in age and let the child count. They LOVE this one, especially if you ham it up and tell them that "It's Not Fair!" a phrase they have probably used on you a time or two.

11. Store your dishes in a low cupboard so a child can unload the dishwasher and set the table. If you are worried about things getting broken, use plastic until the children are older. You may realize that though some things get broken and have to be replaced, your child will be able to accomplish an important task that will help the family unit. I am often secretly tickled when adults break or spill things, because it takes the heat off children to realize that sometimes accidents happen. Accidents teach us to be cautious and mindful of what we are doing. I wish I could take credit for this idea but our daughter Bethany had her children setting the table by the time they were three years old. They can also get their own drinks from glasses in the low cupboard and a jar with a spigot on a lower shelf in the fridge.

12. Instill the habit of one toy or game at a time. Be clear in your expectation that a game must be put away before any other game is taken out. For efficient storage, make drawstring bags out of mesh or old Levi's and put labels or pictures as clues on the fronts. Keep the bags in a place where children can easily reach them. Don't use a toy box. Kids are pretty smart and will quickly learn that what comes out must go back in. They will therefore play with whatever is on the top or scatter the contents of the box all over the house trying to find a missing Barbie Doll leg or Lego piece.

13. Assign a police sergeant to pick up every night at 8:00 p.m. Any item left lying about can be held for a fine, payable to the sergeant. If you are not giving allowances, the same idea can be accomplished by giving each child a number of tokens or buttons each day or at the family council. The buttons can be used to "buy" treats and treasures from a special box. When a child has to pay a fine there is a logical consequence for not picking up their toys and belongings and natural and logical consequences are the best teachers in the world.

14. Ask for help in a variety of ways (as opposed to nag, nag, nag). Sing out your request, or pantomime, or talk to an imaginary Mary Mild, the maid. A very effective way of communicating is to write notes or letters. These give you an opportunity to do an "Encouragement Sandwich".

• Start off with a slice of the bread of life. For example, "I really admire the way you are learning to take better care of your things".

• Next, add a little mayo spread lightly-"I felt happy when I saw you hang up your new jacket last night".

• Then, the slice of sharp cheese-"However, I noticed you left your bike outside in the rain again".

• On top of the cheese, a little mustard to catch their attention-"Please put it away every night or we will have to lock it up for a week each time it is left out".

• Finally, another slice of bread-"All in all, you are a great kid and I have confidence you will choose to take better care of your bike".

Kids and adults tune out nagging, but most of us don't mind a nudge now and then. One of the best nudges is a written note reminding us what needs to be done - especially when it is signed with love. Leaving a sticky note on the bedroom door or on the dinner plate is often all you'll need to get your message across.

15. Change the words to "Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush" to "This Is The Way We Make Our Beds". This will make the chore of making beds fun as well as educational, since children need to be able to hear the sounds and patterns of words. So try to read, sing and talk to your baby every day - if you do, you will be assured of raising a confident reader.

Music has such a special place in developing brains and attitudes. We often begin singing parentally to our babies and continue with lullabies. Our children don't expect us to be Celene Dion; they just love the sound of our voice and want to sing along with us. Singing involves the heart and lung sphere, whose development is emphasized between the ages of three and five. Children under nine tend to sing much higher and faster than adults, but they enjoy it. And hearing them sing is much nicer than hearing them argue.

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

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

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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