was the secret to the mom’s success? Believe me, I asked
her, and my girlfriend shared these three simple secrets and
I used them that afternoon with my own kids. 1. Cindy chose
tasks that fit her kids’ developmental abilities. 2.
She planned for chore success. (For example: She bought no-break
plastic dishes, and cleared a bottom cupboard so they could
put dishes away without help). 3. She first modeled exactly
how to do a chore, and then made sure they could do it alone.
The result: success! You can use these same secrets with your
children to boost their helping attitudes. Here are a few
chores appropriate for different ages.
never too early to begin, but let’s be realistic. Do not
expect a toddler to do any “chore” on his own, but
you can gently encourage his helping spirit. Here’s how:
- Toddlers love to help and learn best by copying and working
next to you. So purchase a pint-size broom, rake, or vacuum
(that looks like Mommy’s). Your little one can grab
his broom and copy you.
- Set out a special box, bin or basket for your toddler
to help you put his toys away. He won’t do this alone,
but would love to help you do the task (for a few seconds
Mommy Secret for this age is if you expect this age of child
to do chores first alone, they are likely to give up in frustration.
So if you want your preschooler to succeed (or really any
age child), first show them exactly how to do the task right.
They probably will still need your guidance. Here are a few
- Set and clear the table and fold napkins: Be on the lookout
for placemats that provide inked-in outlines of a fork,
knife, spoon and plate. Some moms make them by drawing utensil
outlines using permanent black marking pens on construction
paper and then covering them with clear laminating paper.
- Sponge off tables and counters: Hand him a damp sponge
and a squirt bottle filled with water and a bit of your
favorite cleaner and let him go to town cleaning away
- Pick up toys: Provide a box, basket, or bin for your child
to put away his toys
- Recycling: He can stack magazines and papers (do specify
exactly where you want items placed) and empty small wastebaskets.
Gardening: Fill a water can and designate certain plants
that should be watered.
for School-Age Kids:
kids are ready to help out in the household as well as some
yard work. Go through each new chore step by step with your
child so that he clearly knows how to do it. Then observe
him doing it at least once to make sure he can handle it.
Routine household chores: Set and clear table, put dishes
in dishwasher, put clean ones away, vacuum, dust, sweep.
- Laundry: Gradually increase the repertoire until your
child can do the majority alone.
- Meals: Make their lunch and be responsible for cooking
one part of evening meal
- Pet care: Feeding, taking them on walks, brushing, bathing,
cleaning out cage.
- Gardening: Weeding, watering plants, raking leaves, mowing
the lawn, sweeping patio
- Personal bedrooms: This should slowly become their sole
responsibility including dusting, making the bed and changing
- Laundry duties: Putting his dirty clothes in hamper, emptying
hamper, folding and sorting lights and darks.
for Preteens and Teens:
few short years this same kid is probably will be living on
his own. So think of assigning chores to help prepare him
for independent living.
- Cooking: Learning a few basic cooking recipes to cook
- Laundry: Completely doing own laundry
- Bathroom: Cleaning their shower, toilet, tub (My kids’
roommates have thanked me)
- Car care: When she gets that license make her responsible
for maintaining car appearance washing exterior, cleaning
windows, filling it with gas, even taking in for service.
never too early for your child to help out with the household
chores. (Okay, do wait until your child is at least out of
diapers and can talk). But the fact is the sooner you begin
chores, the easier it is be to nurture your child’s
responsibility muscle. Remember to choose tasks that match
your child’s abilities, show your child exactly what
you expect, and finally stand back. The real mommy secret
is this: Don’t do any task your child can do alone.
Kids needs to see themselves as responsible family contributors.
Borba, Ed.D. is a mom of three, a former teacher, and renowned
educational consultant who has presented workshops to one
million parents and teachers worldwide. Dr. Borba is the author
Simple Secrets Real Moms Know: Getting Back to Basics and
Raising Happy Kids
(Jossey-Bass, April. 2006).She is a frequent guest on Today,
The Early Show, The View, and Fox & Friends. She is also
the award-winning author of over 20 books including Parents
Do Make a Difference, Don’t Give Me That Attitude!,
No More Misbehavin’, and Nobody Likes Me, Everybody
Hates Me. Dr. Borba is an advisory board member for Parents.
For more strategies and tips visit www.simplemommysecrets.com.
2006 by Michele Borba www.simplemommysecrets.com. Permission
to reprint if left intact.