Should children do chores
Does it make sense for children to help with the household?
Helping the children is firmly planned
It can take some effort to get children to help around the house. This is most likely to succeed if the children have the feeling that their help is really needed and that it is later recognized. If they have the feeling that they are being given tasks just so that they can learn something or if you don't feel like doing it yourself, you will encounter resistance from the child.
Your own attitude towards housework is crucial here. If you yourself feel the housework as annoying or even disgusting and complain about it, this is not without consequences for the child, it adopts this attitude. We cannot then expect it to tackle these tasks with enthusiasm and good humor. It is very beneficial if you can show the children how to do the everyday housework with patience, commitment and a little humor.
The well-known physicist and philosopher Fritjof Capra (book: The Turning point) deals with the discrepancy between the value of housework, which is socially recognized, and the undeniable essentiality for our daily life. The fact is that in our society (the industrialized countries in general) there is a hierarchy with regard to the various activities. The work of the lowest level is almost always "entropic", i.e. the work has to be done again and again, is without lasting success: Cooking food, cleaning, agricultural work, etc. These activities are paid the worst and are not valued. Now as parents (as educators) one should make activities that are not socially recognized palatable to the children ... However, there is another way: with Buddhist monks cooking, cleaning and gardening are part of meditation. Christian monks and nuns have always been involved in farming, nursing and the like. firmly built into their daily life. In these cultures, “entropic” activities are given a high spiritual value as they help one to understand the natural cycles of growth and decay (birth and death).
By doing housework, children can also be taught the following skills:
- Divide forces appropriately (I cannot expect too many activities in one day!)
- Schedule time (if I go horse riding on Mondays, there won't be enough time to clean my room, etc. So I have to choose another day for it)
- Learn activities yourself (cleaning windows, vacuuming, flower care, animal care, visits to the post office and savings banks, etc.)
- to overcome oneself (to do it, although one has no desire, but it is necessary) = to develop a sense of duty
The children should not be paid for household chores, otherwise they will receive false messages:
- Good deeds are paid for! - In many cases, good deeds are not even recognized, let alone paid for.
- If I don't get paid, I don't have to do anything. - Much in life is not rewarded with money: raising children, etc. Does that mean it has no value or shouldn't it be done anymore?
- The better the payment, the more valuable the work. - The payment says nothing about the value of the work itself. A boxer can get more money for a single wrestling match than almost everyone can make in their entire professional life.
Type of tasks
From the age of 2 onwards, the children can be given small tasks (at this time they are also eager to help), after which new commitments can be added month by month. Tasks that recur and are easy to complete are great. At the age of 4, for example, they can set the table and bring their own dishes to the sink.
The children should be reminded of their duties, check that they have been completed, but later expect to do so without specifically pointing them out. Praise and pride are then appropriate. Real self-esteem can only arise when they contribute something to the community.
When assigning tasks to the children, you should find a balance between work that they enjoy and that they do not enjoy doing. The distribution of tasks should be changed regularly so that everyone has a turn with each task. So variety is advisable. After all, at some point it becomes too boring for everyone to only empty the trash can, etc. Now and then a higher level of difficulty (delivering a package to the post office, whipping cream, etc.) should be present, because self-esteem increases when doing things. Competence should be sought in all areas of daily life: cleaning, washing clothes, cooking, flower care, animal care, dealing with money, etc.
Tips on how tidying up can be, for example, funnier and more promising
If you set a good example in terms of keeping order, this is enough. If parents set a good, but not exaggerated example, child psychologists believe that the children will at some point develop an appropriate sense of order on their own. Too many rules just ruin the children's fun. As a matter of principle, the children's room should be respected as the child's privacy, in which they can freely develop. The hygiene (no leftover food, regular cleaning) should be observed, otherwise a little chaos can stimulate the imagination more than a tidy showroom. Children need a bit of chaos, because new game ideas only emerge once the toys have been spread out to a certain extent. During puberty (from 10, 12 years), the condition of one's own room often reflects the state of mind.
Basically, a child should be relieved of desperation about the chaotic room. The younger the child is, the more it feels overwhelmed by cleaning up. Children should not be expected to start cleaning up immediately when asked to do so. It takes them a little while to break away from the game, so to speak.
Unpacking / tidying up together is faster and more fun. Tidying up the children's room etc. can even be fun if you turn on music (radio, CD, etc.). But something creative also puts you in a good mood: using a broomstick as a microphone stand, a hand brush as a guitar, etc. If you as an adult help out, the child is more motivated. Various games that are fun on the one hand and create order on the other are recommended: everyone in the family who is older than 5 years can take part. A lot will decide who gets which room. Then it's a matter of filling a laundry basket with things that are not in their proper place as quickly as possible. Or: If the first option does not work so well, a little more pressure is necessary: Set up a box as a family-owned “lost property office”. Everything is transported in here that is lying around in a disturbing way (dirty laundry on the floor, forgotten sock in the living room, children's play in the kitchen, etc.). Once a week the “auction” takes place: Whose part is this or that?
Toys are best stowed the way they are in kindergarten: in large boxes! A box (or shoebox) for Legos, one for wooden animals, one for plasticine, etc. If you stick different colored pictures on the boxes, it makes orientation easier. Shoeboxes, etc. are good for storing small parts. Soft toys look pretty in a wicker basket. Shelves are at the optimal height when children can easily reach them. After all, they should be able to put their things on the shelf themselves. Things that are currently not needed due to the season can be placed further away. In this context: Things that the child has “outgrown” should be put away (baby toys, if it is already a toddler, etc.). Too many toys bring restlessness to the room. It is much better to always make only a certain part available to the child and to exchange it from time to time. This is how the educators in the kindergarten proceed with picture books e.g.
- Biddulph, S .: The secret of happy children, Bertelsmann Club GmbH, Rheda-Wiedenbrück, 1994
- Coloroso, B .: What children's souls need, Südwest-Verlag, GmbH & Co. KG, Munich, 1997
- Parents: The right upbringing from AZ, VEMAG, Cologne
- Course book for children, Bertelsmann Club GmbH, Gütersloh, 1993
More articles by the author here in our family handbook
Beate Weymann, qualified social pedagogue
Created on July 17, 2001, last changed on February 19, 2010
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