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How to Do Less for Your Children
So You Can Do More with Them

Children learn through example and play. A parent with a positive attitude toward household responsibilities will have children who are very likely to share the same positive attitude. Remember, attitudes are "caught," not "taught."

How are responsibilities taught? Children, just as adults, work better with incentives. What incentives appeal to children? Those that have the parents participating in choice giving and activities. For example

When the dishes are done, we'll bake cookies.

When the toys are picked up and you're ready for bed, I'll read a story to you.

When your homework is finished, you may go outside and play.

It is important to not confuse incentives with bribes. In the examples just given, note the word "when". A bribe would use the word "if." ('if the dishes are done')

Another method to teach children is to make work fun. The following examples may be 'fun' for you to use.

Setting the Table

Make a sample table place setting from construction paper. This provides a pattern for children as they set the table. You will have more willing workers when their chances for doing a job successfully are assured.

Picking Up Their Things

Make a hand puppet from a sock or paper bag, as the child picks up his toys have him tell the puppet what to do.

Make up 'titles' with responsibilities, Scraper Sam - scrapes the dishes before they are washed, Musty Dusty - dusts the furniture, Jack-the-jumper - jumps up to answer the door or telephone.

When you have a room that is cluttered with toys or a yard that needs to be picked up, play 21 Pick-Up. Call the children together and ask them to pick up and put away 21 objects. Through this game children will see both the beginning and end of their chore. Everyone does their share.

Make a job wheel. Take two poster boards and cut two circles, one about an inch bigger in diameter than the other. On the larger wheel print the children's names on the outside edge. Around the edges of the smaller circle, write the jobs that need to be accomplished (e.g., take garbage out, wash dishes, vacuum the living room, etc). Attach the circles together at the center with a brass tab, so the wheel can be turned.

Children need to feel appreciated for their efforts. Write notes to children and place the note in their lunch, under their pillows or in balloons hanging in their room. Some families, have extra chores children can do to earn some money. Think about incentives beginning with a hug and a smile. Always remember to say thank you!

Adapted from the Art of Teaching Children, D. V. Hoole/D. V. Ockey.

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