If you need a few pointers to get your small children to help you clean up around the house, do their chores, or even to clean their room, I have some tips for you.
Having dealt with this a lot and having discovered what has worked and what has not, I have found a few things that may make your life a little easier. The fact is, kids are just wired differently. Some like to clean their room, some hate it. Some like to work alone, some insist on being part of a group. Sometimes, they change from one style to another depending on the chore at hand.
The point is, one size does not fit all. Each kid is different, just as each adult is different. Getting kids productive and motivated may take a slightly different approach in your style from chore to chore and kid to kid. Be willing to try a new way.
Most of us parent the way we were brought up. The problem is, your kids are not you. They are unique and might just need a slight twist to your style for everything to click. Just as your parents may have altered their tactics for you, you might need to do that for your kids. You can hold out for your way, and that is fine, or you can try to come at this from another angle. It just might be a difference maker.
There Are Some Simple Truths
When it comes to young children helping out around the house, I have discovered that there are some simple truths that you need to accept to be successful.
Every Kid Is Different - Don't expect what worked for your oldest to work for your youngest. You just may have 2 completely different personality types on your hands. In fact, there's a good chance of that.
They Are Not The Same Age - Don't expect your 9-year-old and your 4-year-old to offer the same productivity. Be ready to explain to both of them why they were asked to do what they were asked to do.
They Have Different Motivaters - Each kid will have a style that works for them. Some are motivated by positive things. Others are motivated to not experience negative things.
Time Of Day Matters - You probably already know that it's better to ask your kid to do something at a certain time of day. Being hungry, tired, etc. can affect each kid differently.
The Lasts Time Impacts The Next Time - Success breeds success. When your kids does a task well make sure you capitalize on it. Thanks them. Give them a hug or a high-five. It will be in their mind next time.
5 Tips For Getting The Most Out Of Your Kids
Here are the 5 tips. They are independent from one another. Think of this as a list of things to try until you figure out what works for you and your kids. If you just can't seem to get your kid motivated to do their chores, try each of these styles and see if one clicks.
I Can Do It Myself - Some kids just want to do it themselves. Period.
Characteristics: These kids want to do a job all ay themselves. They are independent. If you help them or assign them work with a sibling they will be less productive. They want the ownership of the job and they also want all the glory for the positive result when the job is well done.
What To Try: Assign them a job on their own. Let them know they are in charge. When they are successful, praise them and watch how proud they are. They will want to repeat that.
I Can't Do This Alone - Some kids want to work as part of a team.
Characteristics: These kids want to be part of a group. They don't like working alone and feel hopeless when confronted with a job in isolation. They don't know where to start and spin around not really finishing the chore.
What To Try: Assign them a chore with a sibling so they have the help. If that is not possible, "help" them by appearing to help or picking up a thin here and there while they do most of the real work. Break the task down for them into smaller tasks. For example, instead of "clean your room" why not start with "make your bed" and then move on to "pick up your dirty clothes". Teach them how to break a job down into manageable parts.
Let's Make A Deal - Some kids like to make a deal, so go ahead and seal the deal.
Characteristics: These kids want this chore or task to be their idea, not yours. They want to do things on their terms.
What To Try: Give them options. One way is to put two chores against one another. "Do you want to take the garbage out first or would you rather empty the dishwasher first?" Another way is to put the task against something they want and let them choose. "Do you want to finish cleaning the game room now so you can play outside the rest of the day or do you want to do half now and come back in to finish the other half later?" Accept their decision if it is reasonable and hold them accountable for it.
What's In If For Me? - Some kids respond best when they see the reward coming.
Characteristics: These kids really need credit for a job well done. They want recognition. That recognition can be verbal or something tangible. These kids respond best to positive reinforcement.
What To Try: Be sure to praise them for doing a good job. If you feel comfortable with it, dangle a carrot in front of them as a reward for doing the job. I don't condone this for common chores that should be part of a kids job, but perhaps for an extraordinary task once in a while it's OK.
What If I Don't? - Some kids respond best when they know they'll lost something.
Characteristics: These kids don't want to lost access to something they like. They are motivated by avoiding negative outcomes.
What To Try: Let them know that this chore is required or else they will lose something. That something could be TV or computer time, the DS or Xbox, or freedom to play outside. I believe that this method should be the last option of the five, but some kids simply respond best to this style.
Give It A Go
Hopefully this article has triggered an idea or two for you to try to get your kids to stay motivated and deliver on their responsibilities around the house.
We could take the approach that you are the boss and they should do whatever you say in the way you tell them to, and that is up to you, but if you understand what style makes your kids most productive and adapt to that I believe you will have more success and be a much more satisfied parent.