Teach the kids to do all chores at home – you will be a proud parent because you will gift a son or a daughter who can do the dishes, cut the veggies and clean toilets to your future daughter/ son-in-law.
You must have come across a kid tearing a shop upside-down for being refused a toy; a kid holding the parents to ransom for some gizmo in the electronic shop; threatening the parents with dire consequence for not buying a motorcycle; screaming their guts out as the child could not get a window seat on an airplane or bus; and so on. These are entitled kids, and they grow into entitled adults. That kid in his entire life did no chores at home other than disturbing the cushions on the couch.
An entitled kid expects food on the table; to be provided with snacks and drinks at their beck and call; the choice of food to be more like a restaurant menu; someone else or the household help will make their beds, clean up their mess; not follow any time schedules – even to eat or sleep.
Most of us did not enjoy doing chores around our homes. I certainly did not. We were in a Sainik (Military) School from age nine and we had no choice, but to do everything – making our beds, polishing our shoes, keeping the dorms and the area around clean – the list was endless. We all grew up totally unentitled.
When should kids start taking on household chores?
The latest study says as early as two years old. They should begin with age-appropriate tasks, under parental or senior sibling’s observation – clearing up toys, arranging their books, wearing clothes, etc. A child is not born with all the skills to do all of these chores right away, so a little guidance and encouragement is necessary. This will ensure that your child grows unentitled and will not develop into an entitled adult. No parents want to raise entitled kids.
A family and a home is not a private limited company of the parents, but is a public company where the parents and children, all have equal stakes. Along with the stakes comes duties and responsibilities. It is mandatory for the parents to ensure that they do their bit and also that the children do theirs. Making children do chores at home and making them participate in all family activities is the responsibility of parents. Let your kids feel like they are part of this family team and they have to pitch in! Doing chores together help kids feel connected to the family.
Chores teach kids to take care of themselves and do basic activities like clean, cook and maintain the space around them, etc. Giving kids simple responsibilities around the home will inculcate self-reliance and responsibility. It also gives a small much needed breather to the parents.
Kids are not born perfectionist; hence expect them to whine and take too long to complete the task. It will never be up to your expectations, but they will soon be there with a little encouragement and guidance. Many a times, you will end up doing it all over, take it that it’s the best training your kid can get. Ultimately, isn’t it so much easier to do it ourselves! Remember – Everything begins at home.
Children will never learn these by mere observation – They got to do it themselves. Parents have to show the way and also explain to them how to do it. They must also thank them for their effort and also tell them as to how their participation in the chore helped the household. It will teach the child the importance of helping others.
Have you ever written a note to the school teacher explaining a reason for the kid not completing an assignment like the dog chewed on the completed work, the hard-disk of the computer got accidentally formatted, the laptop computer crashed? You have robbed your child of an opportunity to be responsible and advocate for themselves at school. It’s a sure way of setting them up for failure, which none of us want. We want to see them scaling greater heights, turn into valuable citizens and proud members of the society. That needs a lot of hard work – both from the parent and the child. It isn’t that easy.
When we do things for them all the time, it hinders their development and keeps them from succeeding on their own. It ends up as a message to our children that we don’t believe in their abilities. If you develop your child to be an entitled teen/ adult, they will expect their spouse, their roommate, or you to do everything for them. If your kid hasn’t consistently done chores, it’s never too late to start, particularly if you’re really open with them about why you’re making the change and what your new expectations are.
Experts also recommend linking a new chore with a future behaviour — telling a teen that they’re learning how to help with dinner so they can make meals when they go to college, or when they’re cooking for their partner or spouse later.
Kids are never happy for being reminded about their chores. Even parents are never too happy doing things around the house. They are very likely to nag when asked to do a chore. It should never be used as a tool to discipline the kids. You must be flexible and allow the children to chose what chore they want to do.
Reward your kids when they do their chores and appreciate them for their efforts. Ensure that the rearwards are those you’re comfortable with. Plan the reward in advance and always be consistent.
Prepare the Child for the Path – not the Path for the Child.
(Images are of James Carter Parkinson, our two year old grandson)