Here’s a secret that no one ever tells you: small children love to help around the house. They love the recognition it brings and gives them a huge sense of accomplishment. ‘I am important in the house.’
Kids are able to do quite a lot of small jobs. It is a lovely workout for little bodies and improves the dexterity of little hands, while mom actually gets some housework done. With help. Loading laundry from the washing basket into the machine is a great job for little ones. Lots of bending and lifting. Helps children build upper body strength while mom loads the dishwasher or gets breakfast ready.
Cleaning up their own spills. Yes, even at age two they are big enough. Sounds terrible, but try it. It goes over fairly well and they learn where the cloths are. Remember Karate Kid? All that wiping – “Wax on, wax off” – is really good shoulder strengthening in preparation for entering the fray.
Tidying their rooms. This is a very relevant chore. “It is TV time, yes, but please tidy your room first.” See how it gets done in record time.
Depending on their size and age, children can help in a lot of ways:
Making the bed
Setting the table
Sweeping the floor
Vacuuming – kids love it!
Hanging clothes on the line – excellent finger exercise
Help with baking
Making cereal and other easy snacks or meals
Feeding the pets
Pruning (with their own little scissors) and weeding in the garden
If the children are hanging around bored while you have things to do, work out which parts of the job they can manage. They will either help or it will inspire them to think of something to play.
The Five Love Languages, by Gary Chapman, explains how acts of service is one way of expressing love. If this is your child’s love language, they will adore you for needing and asking their help. Be sure to return the love in tangible ways. Happy mom, happy child.
Introducing pocket money into the chore system is helpful in many ways:
1) Children learn that hard work gets rewarded.
2) Teaching children to save breeds adults with better financial planning skills. Buy a piggy bank and teach them to value it.
3) Choosing how to spend the money: How much does that thing cost? Can I have both of these? How much more do I need? This teaches children to prioritize their wants according to their means.
4) Teaching kids the value of money. With one unit of money (rand/dollar/euro/pound) I can buy this much. Lovely and helpful for math skills too.
5) Weekly pocket money is a gentle reminder that children need to do some odd jobs now and again. Parents can refer to the actual earning of the pocket money when no one feels like helping.
6) Rehashing exactly all the ways in which they helped during the week and earned their money when it gets paid, gives children wonderful recognition. They love the fact that you saw all their hard work and really appreciate it.
The ING International survey shows that children who receive pocket money are more likely to develop stronger financial planning skills in later life.