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Coming Of Age: Getting Kids Involved In Age-Appropriate Chores

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By Mia Bolaris-Forget

Getting my nails done the other day I overheard a women talking about her 12-year old son and how his school was mandating that they read three books over the summer and do 50 pages of math homework to be prepared for the upcoming school year.

While my husband had never heard of anything like this before, it was EXACTLY how my junior high and high school handled US, back in the day. And, while I may have moaned and groaned back then, can see the benefits of it now.

Ironically this young man’s mom was suggesting that kids need timed to “relax”. And, while part of me agreed, I though all about all those kids “getting into trouble” because mom and dad work and they have TOO MUCH free time on their hands.

And, it seems experts would agree. In fact, experts suggest that kids (secretly) are looking for productive things to do and want to be kept busy. They even suggest that even from an early age, children will want to “emulate” mom and dad and mimic what they see and feel like they to are doing something valuable and meaningful, even if it’s helping around the house. In fact, having tasks or chores to do can even be rewarding for some older tweens and teens and a big help for mom and dad.

But, you won’t want to work them to hard or give them tasks they can’t handle, especially if you’re working on building their confidence and self-esteem. And, remember, doing chores well, should be THE reward and you should refrain taking over even if it’s not perfect or is taking longer than you expected.

> Tiny Tykes…Including Toddlers and Pre-Schoolers:

· Making his or her own bed: Toddlers can start off by helping you make your bed and theirs, basically by just helping you pull up the covers and the sheets, while preschoolers should be able to take over most of all of the task themselves.

· Putting toys away: Make sure you have a designated area, box, or chest where toys can be stored and make your child/children responsible for cleaning up after themselves.

· Dusting: Some experts suggest that this “chore” is even enjoyable for some little ones. Just remember to keep them away from chemicals such as furniture polish, but rather hand them a rag and let them “do their thing”.

· Clothes Call: Get kids involved in helping you with the laundry, even if its simply sorting clothes, carrying their stuff to the laundry room, loading the washer or dryer, and/or helping you fold. A good place to start however is by setting up (in each of your kids’ rooms) their very own laundry basket and making them responsible for placing dirty clothes where they belong at the end of the day or when they need to change.

· Mail call: Teach kids reading skills by asking them to help you sort out and open the mail. Older youngsters can be asked to go retrieve the mail from the mailbox as well.

Youngsters: Ages 6-12

· Cleaning the car: Let younger tweens help with cleaning the interior such as tossing trash and vaccuming, while older tweens can help wash, wax, vaccume, etc. or they can make the project their own.

· Help them make a clean sweep: Allow kids to sweep and mop floors (at least the older ones), while younger children can push the vacuum along.

· Walking the dog: It’s best to go with them just for safety’s sake. But, let kids hold onto the leash, make the usual pit stop, help with clean up and after care such as feeding and grooming your pooch.

· Food for thought: Let them help prepare meals and snacks, even if it just means letting them help unpack groceries, hand you ingredients or pour their own glass of milk.

· Table Talk: Let children help set the table and teach them about folding napkins, utensil placement, etc.

· In Full Bloom: Let kids help out with gardening and yard work. Let older kids mow lawns and do the planting and weeding, while younger kids help with raking, watering and cleanup.

Young Adults: Ages 12 and above

· Home maitenance and improvement: Get teens involved with doing some “dirty work” such as washing windows or helping out with home repairs.

· Wash and Wear: Teens are at the age where they are old enough to do their own laundry and even toss in yours.

· Trashing the place: Teach teens about the environment by encouraging them to not only take out the trash but to recycle. You can also help them raise some extra money by letting them keep all the change they get from returning cans etc.

· Green thumb: Let you “older” teens take over mowing and maintaining the lawn.

· Heat things up: Get teens involved with having dinner ready for you when you get home, making something for themselves when you’re not around or helping with cleanup after meals.

Long Island Family Life & Parenting Articles > Coming Of Age: Getting Kids Involved In Age-Appropriate Chores

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