With statewide school closures, kids have lost their main ‘job’ – going to school and learning in a classroom. That loss of feeling belonging, significance and community can have a big impact on their moods and behavior, which you are probably experiencing at home. While now may not feel like the right time to add a bunch of new chores to their routine, figuring out ways for them to contribute to the family and at home and possibly to the broader community can be helpful. Being encouraged to offer skills that make a difference at home allows a child to understand that they are an important part of the universe…not the center of the universe.
Sometimes we think that helping at home is a burden for kids, or that they’ll be resistant to helping out, so we try to do everything ourselves….and end up frustrated and exhausted. Allowing kids to think about ways they would like to contribute can give them a voice and a sense of control in their world. Brainstorming a list of all the family work together and allowing each child to choose a couple of jobs to complete each week is a great way to get started.
Though kids may push back at first, especially older kids, it is worth taking the time to involve them in helping at home, and also out in the community if you can find safe ways to do so.
Family Meetings are a huge help in creating connection within your family and figuring out ways for all family members to contribute. Learn more about Family Meetings here.
Take Time for Training, Positive Discipline Association
Family Chores, Positive Discipline Association
Creating a Wheel of Choice, video from Sproutable
Take Time for Training
Be mindful of when you ask your children to help out at home, they probably need some help getting started. Try this training approach that involves 4 steps:
- Your kid watches you do the activity
- Your kid helps you
- You help your kid
- You watch your kid do the activity themselves
Make a “Wheel of Choice” aka Job Wheel
- Make a pie chart with 6-8 pieces that have ideas or options for what do around the house. A child can spin the wheel or the spinner, or simply look at the chart and pick the idea that works for them.
- Letting your child take the lead, brainstorm ideas together for what should go on the pie chart. Write down the ideas or options with just a few words, and draw a simple picture to illustrate idea. Ideas might include watering plants, taking care of pets, cleaning a communal room, emptying the dishwasher. Then practice, role play, and take some time for training for each one.
- Use it to let kids choose their daily contribution. Kids spin the wheel to choose their contribution for the day.
Community scavenger hunts
Is your community doing community scavenger hunts? Some places are putting teddy bears or stuffed animals in their windows for children to find on walks. Can your child choose a few objects to post in your windows?
Collect food or make a family donation to your local food bank or other organization that is supporting families during this time.