I try to give my kids as much autonomy as I can. Autonomy is a HUGE human need. It is so strong in all of us, but some of us have an easier time ignoring it. If you think about how you feel when you are forced to do something…it probably doesn’t feel good. You might feel tense, angry, or resentful. Our kids feel this way too, when we force them to do things.
There are ways that we can all have our needs met without force. If I need help cleaning the house, I ask the girls what chore they would like to do.When they are given the choice of what chore to do, they are much more willing to help out. I also explain to them what I am needing, such as a need for support, or a need for a clean space. I try to meet their need for autonomy by letting them choose what they do and if they don’t like doing a particular chore, I ask them why and listen to their response. Sometimes they don’t like a particular chore because they find it too difficult, or it could be as simple as they get too hot or they dislike how loud the vacuum is. We try to compromise so that everyone is heard, and respected.
With chores, I find having a reward system helps. Even though I dislike rewards, they work for us right now. The girls cannot go on the computer if they have not done a chore. This really motivates them to get a chore done earlier in the day. They often ask, “what chores are there?” And I list off what needs to be done. They choose from that list. During the day I will also ask them to do small tasks like taking out the compost or helping me fold laundry. I also remind them to clean up after themselves.
Motivating kids to help out can be a challenge. Here are some methods that I have learned.
– For big jobs I might offer them some spare change. This often gets them going right away.
– Do the chore with them. Say, “Lets empty the dishwasher together”. Having a helping hand is always nice.
– Make it a game. When you are folding laundry, pretend you are packing a suitcase for a trip.
– Turn on some music, have fun, dance around and clean.
– Challenge them to a race. We divided the girls room in half, I got one half and the girls got the other half, we were done cleaning in 5 Minutes. A record!
– Offer a reward of your time, read them a book after, or play a game with them.
– Allow them to choose their chore.
– Give them incentives, like computer time after a chore, or a movie.
Sometimes I will ask the girls what needs to be done to make the living room sparkle or ask them to make the living room look like a palace. They love to beautify things and they love to organize.
There are lots of times when I ask the girls for help with something and they willingly do it with no problems. Children really do want to help, the timing just has to be right. If they are in the middle of something, they are less likely to quickly agree. If I am in a pinch and really need a hand, they are quick to help. They can sense when there is a true need and not just a Mom trying to coerce them into doing a chore.
Sometimes they say no, and they refuse to do the chores that need to be done. Sometimes there is a fight to get them to help. There are times when I resort to threats or to getting angry. I really try to avoid this but sometimes my patience is thin. It is short lived and, after giving myself some empathy and apologizing for freaking out, we can get back to cooperation.
All in all, I think respect and communication go a long way to getting everyone’s needs met and to having a clean home. Some children are more stubborn then others, some like to help out more then others. Try to find a method that works for you and your children, try to stay calm, and treat them how you would want to be treated. Hopefully you will find something that works. For us every day is different, one day something will work and then the next day it doesn’t. This can be frustrating but I just try to stay flexible and patient with myself and with them.
Hope this has been helpful for you 🙂
What strategies do you use for motivating your kids to help? Please comment, I would love to hear your perspective!