The benefits of chores for pre-teens
Children in the middle childhood years start to turn to their friends for support and approval rather than their families. This is a normal and healthy part of your child's development. But you still want to maintain a close relationship with your child. Doing chores together is one way you can strengthen family bonds. Working at the same time, even if you're working on separate things, helps kids learn to work as part of a team. It also creates a sense of belonging.
However, stronger family bonds aren't the only benefit to assigning chores to your pre-teen. Children who do chores grow up to be happier and more successful than children who don't. Some of the benefits of doing chores include:
- Learning to balance work and play
- Better time management skills
- Feelings of competence
- Learning skills needed for independent living
- Ability to delay gratification
- Higher frustration tolerance
- Sense of accomplishment
How to set guidelines for chores
If your child isn't used to doing chores, you'll need to set clear expectations. Set up a tracking system before you start. It's a good idea to have a family meeting. Give children this age input on the chores they want to do. Once you've agreed on who is responsible for what, post a chore chart. This will remind everyone about your expectations.
Kids in this age range usually have the physical dexterity to perform most chores. But it's still a good idea to provide exact and clear instructions and clear goals. You may need to do the chore with them the first few times. Teach your child one chore at a time and add new ones as they master older ones.
Motivating pre-teens to do chores
Some parents pay their children for chores. But some experts believe that's not the best way to handle the question. Chores are necessary and good for children. You don't want to set up a system where your child can decide they'd rather not get paid than do chores. An allowance is a good tool for teaching children to manage money, but it should be separated from doing chores. Your kids should be expected to do chores because they are part of the family. Chores are how family members contribute to the family workload.
Appreciation and praise are usually the only rewards necessary for motivating children to do chores. If you find your child procrastinating or not doing chores, you may need to implement consequences. One effective method for dealing with children who are reluctant to do chores is to implement "Grandma's Rule." Remind your children they have to finish their work before they have fun. Don't allow them to have electronics or hang out with their friends until after their chores are done.
Have realistic expectations
Your child may be capable of folding laundry, but they aren't going to do it as well as you do. Harsh criticism or too many tasks can demoralize anyone. Don't expect perfection. If your child falls short, follow through in a calm and consistent manner.
You know your child best. Some children can handle more independence and responsibility than others. Work with your child's personality and offer lots of praise for jobs well done. Having a structured environment will make it easier for your child to consistently do chores. It's even better if everyone can work on chores at the same time.
Chores for personal responsibility
This is a great age for you to turn more responsibility over to your children. As they get closer to their teen years and independence, they can take over more jobs relating to their own care and obligations. Some of these chores may include:
- Cleaning their room
- Doing their own laundry
- Packing their lunch
- Packing clothes and supplies they need for extracurricular activities
- Cleaning up after themselves
- Fixing themselves snacks
Children's Wisconsin: "How to assign age-appropriate chores to children."
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: "Middle Childhood (9-11 years of age)."
American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry: "Chores and Children."
Child Development Institute: "The Reason Children Should Do Chores is Because it's Good for Them."
Healthychildren.org: "Chores and Responsibility."
Raising Children Network (Australia): "Household chores for children."
Children's Wisconsin: "How to assign age-appropriate chores to children."
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