Jun 25, 2018

Dr. Gellner: Chores are something no one likes to do, whether you're a kid or an adult, but they have to be done. So how can you help get your child to do chores? I've got a few tips to help with this on today's scope. I'm Dr. Cindy Gellner.

Announcer: Keep your kids healthy and happy. You are now entering "The Healthy Kids Zone" with Dr. Cindy Gellner on The Scope.

Dr. Gellner: Let's face it, if given the choice between playing a video game and doing laundry, you as a parent would chose the video game too. One of the most common arguments parents have with their kids is why chores aren't done. They'd rather do it later, and then later turns into next week with double the work and you about to pull your hair out.

Well, first thing that helps is making the chores mandatory and routine. They have to be done before anything fun. The choice should be you do your chore or you sit and stare at the ceiling. Well, maybe not that harsh. But once it becomes habit where your kids know they have a job to do and when it needs to be done, not pushed off, it becomes part of their routine. And kids thrive on routine.

Make chores part of their daily or weekly schedule so they know what is expected of them. Daily chores could be as simple as making their bed properly every morning or setting the table. While weekly chores could be cleaning their room or bathrooms or mowing the lawn. Make sure that the chore is age-appropriate as well. If your child thinks it's too hard because it's more than a child that age can really do, think of something else.

Another big reason kids don't like chores is because they feel that what they're doing is boring. And it's true. There's not the same instant gratification from washing the dishes as they get from getting to the next level in a video game. Kids will drag their feet, which makes the chore seem more like, well, a chore. Kids may understand that doing the chores is an important part of helping with what needs to be done as a family so everyone can have some relax time, but it's hard for them to put that knowledge into action.

So what happens when the chores pile up? It becomes a battle, parents versus kids, who will win? Parents think they're just reminding the kids to do what needs to be done, and the kids just think that the parents are nagging and using them as child labor. Well, instead of constantly being on your kids about their household chores, try figuring out how to motivate them. Find out what the holdup is on starting the chores, and then try to help your child come up with a game plan on how to get the work done properly and timely so they can go do what they really want to do.

Another tip is to give your child a specific time frame on when things need to get done and what the consequence will be if it is not. For example, tell them they have 30 minutes to have the bathroom cleaned thoroughly or they go to bed 15 minutes earlier that night. Alternatively, you can turn it into a reward. If they get the bathroom cleaned in the next 30 minutes, they can have an extra 15 minutes of video game time. Most kids will go for the reward over the consequence. An extra fun time is always a good incentive for a child to do better.

One big thing to watch out for, don't start making chores a punishment. For example, don't say if you don't stop bothering your brother, I'm going to make you vacuum the living room. Instead of making the chores something bad, make them something positive. If they do their chores, they get a reward.

For some kids, a chore chart works well. If they get their chore chart done for the week, they'll get extra playtime, or if they do all their chores for a whole month, they get to pick out a movie to watch for family night. Make the reward something meaningful for each child. For older kids, an allowance might be better. And to teach them the value of money, have them put half of their allowance into a savings account and the other half they can use for a special purchase.

Bottom line, no one likes doing chores, kids and adults included. But when everyone pitches in, then it means more fun time for all, and the kids can take pride in a job well done.

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