Kids need to understand that work is how money is earned. Allowances are a common theme in childhood but they may send the wrong message. The biggest problem – when they come without work or chores attached.Continue Reading...
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One of the rites of passage for a growing child is the assignment of chores. In the home, as a family grows so does the need to helpful hands to keep the home in good working order. What chores should your child have, do you pay them for those chores, and at what age chores should begin will all be answered in this post.
Let’s begin with the money question. Opinions differ on this topic and there are no right or wrong answers. You may take the stance that because you don’t get paid for chores then children don’t either. Maybe you believe that they should get paid for everything or that if they don’t do certain chores then allowances can be withheld as a penalty. I do believe that chores should be the first time that your child learns the lesson that money comes from work. But paying them for everything might be unrealistic and tough to keep up with. You also don’t want to create a little negotiator, so be firm on the amount that you’ll pay your child for chores if you choose to do so.
I think the best approach is a mix where everyone has some chores that they do because they’re part of the family and some chores that they are paid to do. Those paid chores might be the ones that occur less frequently and are more labor intensive, or they might be ones where the children do not directly benefit from the chore’s completion. Whatever your approach, be clear on the subject of compensation.
Chores to be completed in every home vary based on the type of living facility. For example, renters or townhome and condominium owners may not have to deal with exterior maintenance. It might also depend on the family arrangement; if multiple generations share the same home then there may be more chores to do but more people able to participate. Anything that has to be done on a repeating basis can qualify as a chore. But the list can be overwhelming to put together, so where is the best place to start when deciding what chores your children can take on?
Begin with the things you do most for the kids. Cleaning rooms and making beds immediately come to mind. Picking up toys and cleaning up the den or playroom are also high on the list. At a very young age your child can grasp the concept that everything has a place, so begin with the simple cleanup tasks. Remember that your young child is learning so be very lenient in these first few months. Add in the bed making and room cleaning as they enter school in creating a daily routine for your child. At this age, they can begin to take care of any pets that they have.
As your child becomes physically capable, you might add on the chores of taking out the trash, clearing the table, and washing the dishes. Your weekly cleaning chores might expand to include your children, where they could make their beds after sheet washing, vacuum, sweep, or dust. Young men can participate in lawn work and maybe the young ladies could begin to do laundry – or they could swap roles periodically since both would benefit from knowing how to handle all of these chores. As they get closer to driving, have your teens wash cars, help with oil changes and routine maintenance, and let them begin to run errands. Again, these should build on the chores that they have been doing throughout their lives so that responsibility builds, just as it does into adulthood.
In short, your kids need to have chores to build character and responsibility. Your kids also learn practical skills for homemaking that they will use later in life. As kids get older they should share in the ongoing tasks and maintenance of the household for their own benefit and for the benefit of the parents. What chores do your children do in your home? Do you pay for chores or penalize their allowance when they don’t do them? Weigh in with your ideas on this topic.
Fascinating article in the Wall Street Journal this past weekend from Alison Gopnik on the teenage brain. I learned so much from this article and wanted to share a summary and my insights. Turns out that there are reasons behind the mystery that is the teenager and, I believe, some steps we can take to grow them up.
One of the most intriguing parts that I learned was that the contemporary teen in North America is handicapped by their lack of engagement in homemaking and other life skills. In the past, the young adult was well-adjusted to take on the challenges of living in the real world because they were an integral part of these activities at home. They learned the right way, and the wrong ways, to do these things through trial and error. Today’s microwave, instant-on, drive-through burger society has largely eliminated the need for our children to partake in these activities.
Besides delaying their preparedness for life on their own, this impairs your teen’s decision-making abilities. The article points out that teenagers take chances not because they don’t understand risk, but because the associated rewards are far more reinforcing to them. Teens desperately want the approval of their peers so they are likely to engage in that rewarding, yet potentially dangerous and stupid, activity that can lead to their approval over stepping back from the ledge and thinking it over.
Because teens have not learned the wrong ways to do things and made mistakes in a safe environment, they learn in the real world where it hurts more. Attach this to the child who never has a checking account until age 18 – do you think an out-of-balance check register is worse when their debit card is denied at the movie theater or when their rent check bounces? Two or three of these bounces and your kid returns home to live in your basement, convinced that they can’t make it on their own. Kids need to have these experiences at home, and parents need to create an environment for those to happen.
So what can we do? Our kids are smarter than ever but can’t handle the basics of life. Here are seven suggestions that you can incorporate in your home.
1. Just say no. When your child asks (and sometimes tells) you to do something that they are capable of doing, let them do it instead.
2. Delegate. As soon as your child can physically perform a chore or household task, give it to them. A shared load around the house gives a child a greater appreciation for the real world.
3. Praise and correct, never criticize. Stick with your child while they’re learning the ropes of these new tasks so that you can help them learn to do them well.
4. Create grown-up moments. As an example, let your child create grocery lists then let them do the shopping. During these times teach them how to read ingredients, price compare, and so forth. You can do this with auto maintenance, yard work, budgeting and other seemingly adult work.
5. Reward proper communications and extinguish poor ones. Dave Ramsey likes to say that in our teens lives a four-year old and a 34-year old. Communicate with them when they are talking and acting like an adult; when they’re acting like a child, treat them like a child.
6. Teach them money, and give them opportunities to handle money. Like it or not, money is the lifeblood of today’s economy. Send a child into the world with money skills and you’ve won half the battle. The best thing a teenager can learn about finances is that work creates money.
7. Set the course for them to leave the nest. If your child seems to lack direction or desire to move on with their life after high school, begin to talk about it and give them clear guidelines on what life looks like after they graduate.
In short, you teach your child as you raise them; it’s much more than providing food, clothing, and shelter. Don’t take a passive approach to this by doing everything for them and assuming that they learn by watching you. Add age-appropriate chores and household duties to all of your children, teach them about finances, and expect more from them. Your teenager, even with all of their weirdness, can handle challenges far greater than we tend to give them. When you think you’re protecting them and giving them the “good life,” you’re probably setting yourself up to have a 30 year-old roommate.
If your kids aren’t out of school for Christmas already, they soon will be. They are so looking forward to the break and for the presents under the tree. You too are (probably) looking to spend some time with them at Christmas. Coming home with them is their mid-year grades. Hopefully your children are doing well in school, but what if grades are an issue? How can you handle that over the holiday season without ruining their Christmas and yours?
First, keep in mind that you, Santa, and everyone in your family should be giving gifts with no strings attached. This means that no matter how your child performs in school that you would have given them the gift anyway. Since the gifts are given unconditionally, your child should be able to keep their gifts regardless of their grades, and in my opinion they should be able to enjoy those gifts over the holiday break.
By allowing your child to keep and use/play with their gifts while they are on Christmas break, you may be worried that you’re sending the wrong message to them. So, instead of taking away their gifts, maybe you take away another toy or device that they love to do throughout the entire year. That one can be tough also, because you may be tempted to take away video game usage but they just got a Kinect or some other great game. Or maybe they got an iPod so you can’t really take away their computer because they need it to setup and sync the iPod. An alternative may be to restrict their usage and time on these devices.
You might be tempted to take away some activity that they would otherwise be involved in. Maybe they were planning to go on a trip with their church or other organization, perhaps they play some recreational sport or it might be that your family is planning a ski trip or something similar. Taking away or limiting their involvement in these are certainly candidates for consequences, but you will have to evaluate the message that you’re sending. You also want to pay attention to how the consequences might affect the rest of the family, particularly if you’re in the ski trip scenario. A moping teenager is certainly a downer to any occasion, and if you’re paying money to travel then you really don’t want to waste those dollars.
Another option is something like extra chores. A little hard work never hurt anyone, and if you live in an area where there’s snow and ice then a good snow shoveling might get your message across. Or, maybe you have leaves to rake or some other work to do that your children normally don’t participate in. This may well be your best option because you don’t impact the rest of the family or activities and your child can still enjoy the benefits of the holiday season.
In summary, I’m not sure I gave you any good options, just things to consider. That’s why I titled this post the way that I did – it is a tough combination. Just keep in mind that your child is watching everything that you say and do. If you promised a consequence, then following through on that consequence is much more important in the long run than being lenient. As hard as it may be to have your child miss out on things during their time off, you send a very important message to them when you take their grades seriously. And remember that positive reinforcement is much more powerful than punishment, so don’t forget to celebrate their successes in school also.