By Brian Coatney
Chores and children, do the two go together? Anne Stahl, psychology professor at Hopkinsville Community College, says yes, if you start them young.
HCC student Stacey Guy and her husband, Brandon, did just that.
“My husband has been going behind Carson telling him what to do since he was able to walk,” Stacey said.
His insistence of making Carson responsible might be Army influence because Brandon is a seven-year veteran and a senior budget analyst.
The couple started making a game of chores with their son early on. Stacey and Brandon would say “let’s” instead of “you,” to imply that everyone would help out around the house.
During playtime, if Carson dropped a toy, he had to pick it up. A natural jokester, Carson would pick up one toy but get out another one and drop it too — but it was his responsibility to put away both toys once the game was over.
At age 3, Carson took on the responsibility of brushing his teeth and dressing himself. The toddler watched his mother do the drill countless times until, one day, she said, “Let’s see how fast you can do this.”
Stacey downloaded a Disney app on her iPhone that played while he brushed his teeth. Carson watched, listened and brushed the whole 3-minute process. At the end, there was a rousing, “You did it!”
Between ages 4 and 5, Carson’s chores increased to making his bed, taking his plate to the counter and putting clothes away. He also got his own hamper in his room.
Carson’s fifth birthday brought even more household duties. He learned to feed and water the dog and to carry his hamper to the washer and load his clothes. Stacey still takes care of the folding because, she says, “I’m a bit picky — I’ll let him help if I’m in the mood.”
Carson learned how to show respect by saying, “Yes mam” and “No mam,” and “Yes sir” and “No sir.”
Additional ways of showing respect for Carson are not whining about chores and being respectful to his soccer teammates.
In the future, Carson will be able to mow the lawn, but safety is key and he’s not quite old enough. Until that day arrives, the youngster is learning to help Dad pick up the sticks or clippings.
HCC psychology professor Anne Stahl suggests chores for each age group and ways to implement them in your household.
– Work with children to teach pick-up skills.
– If you say, “Pick up that toy,” explain what that means, how to do it and where the toy goes.
– Say “let’s” instead of “you” during clean-up time.
– Introduce small, uncomplicated cleaning tasks.
– Give the child a time frame to do it, which evokes a feeling of independence.
– Incentives can be small perks, like staying up later.
– The consequence for unfinished chores might be going to bed earlier.
- Include tasks with more details, such as emptying wastebaskets, sweeping floors, running the vacuum, cleaning bathrooms or walking the dog.
– Have each child make their chore list or have them help you make the list.
– Increased independence and time-management skills are emphasized.
– No help is needed in making the bed.
– Increased cognitive level grows in seeing what needs to be done around the house.
– If siblings cannot agree on a task, encourage them to
alternate on it.
– Much less parental help is needed in general.
– Children can prepare the yard to be mowed.
– They can learn to do their own laundry. Have some fun; let the hamper be a basketball goal.
– Emphasize that chores are not gender specific.
– Mention as needed that everyone in the house is doing chores.
– Chores can be done independently.
– Ask the teen, “Have we gotten everything done?” (The question encourages them to think).
– Having an allowance is phased out if chores were tied to money.
– Encourage teens to save gift money they receive from special occasions.
– Continue to teach that a family is a collective unit and that Mom and Dad don’t get paid for doing chores around the house.
Money Sense – Stacey and Brandon set up a jar with $5 in quarters every week. Carson can earn it all Monday through Friday at a dollar a day. Payday means actually giving him each quarter he earned, which Stacey said isn’t a hassle.
“I get a roll (of quarters) at the bank each week,” she said. “Carson is good about saving.”
Right now, the big items on his shopping list are Lego sets.
*Some parents may not be able to up the finances as children get older and think of more expensive things to buy. However, the groundwork is laid for the child to apply their skills toward innovative ways to earn and save money.