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#1 of 6 Old 01-30-2011, 07:23 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Is it possible to create strong chore habits with 9 and 11 y/o when it hasn't happened yet?

 

Specifically basic daily chores. Making bed, tidying up room, putting laundry away, helping with dinner dishes. Thats about all I am looking for.

 

We have been sporadic with our expectations thus far. Schedules are kind of all over the place, it has been hard to find regularity but I REALLY REALLY want to and worry that it is too late to have these good habits ingrained into the kids daily lives. It's as though it takes so much time convincing the kids to do their chores that we run out of time to do them. Also if I am to be honest here, I am probably not the best role model. When they were really little I spent all my time paying attention to them, giving them all my attention and would only clean when they napped...as a result my house was never spotless and they didn't learn by example how to keep a house clean, that work needs to be done. kwim?

 

I have always been a sucker to letting them have their time to play, to just be kids and not enforced a strict chore list. They come home from school and my mind set has been to let them have some time to themselves to play when now I am thinking maybe they should have a strict set chore list which needs to be completed before any fun happens.

 

I lack the discipline to see this happen and would like to make some changes...I know I am not giving them the tools they need to have expectations that are seen through to completion.

 

How can I create these good habits at this stage of their childhood???

 

All suggestions welcome!

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#2 of 6 Old 01-30-2011, 09:26 AM
 
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[get ready for a long response...]

This is such a challenging topic. We struggle with it too. Coming from an upbringing where the parenting was coercive ("We the parents know best, so these are the things you must do, so do them, or else"), but instead desiring a parenting style where the CHILD internalizes these habits is so, so, hard!

My husband is an example. He grew up in a very neat house with a very neat mother. Unfortunately I think that she did all the cleaning up herself and required very little of him. I think you can guess the result. So I wonder, how can I do better with my own son?

This question comes up over and over again, not just with cleaning up, but with any "good habit," such as washing face, teeth brushing, practicing things that are hard to do. (we are homeschoolers that TEND toward unschooling but would be better described as eclectic)

With cleaning up, my son's room has always been a disaster area and I do tend to think that he gets overwhelmed by it. Ever since he was little, though, his room has been somewhat organized so that at least when I picked things up we would know where to find them later. Labeled bins and shelves. "Where does this go?" He'd ask. "It goes in the Trucks Department," I'd say. Or "the Space Toys Department" or "The Pajamas crate or the Sock Bucket" or whatever. LOL So he knows there's an underlying system. He sees how hard it is to find toys when he has not put them in their place. He sees me being real happy when I find things that I need, because I had put them in the right place. So in that sense I've been modeling. I also talk about how happy I am when I clean up the living room or how proud I am of myself when I've worked all day on my bedroom because the lack of clutter makes me feel so peaceful when I'm done. He can see that there is an effect.

I tend to think that nagging and forcing will make him turn away from the "good habits" in the long run. It was like this with me. I was forced and coerced all my life. So when I got older and left home, I felt a sense of rebellion against these parental figures. I would let my dental health go, or I'd let my place get messy, or my finances…..and in my head I would be hearing the parental voices telling me to do this or that, and I was conscious that my not doing them was a defiance of these parents..even though I was now an alleged adult and on my own. But the truth is, it was MYSELF I was hurting by neglecting these things!! So it always brings me back to the fact that my son must not be cleaning up because of me, or brushing his teeth because of me…..it is HE who must be convinced that these things are a good idea or it will never stick.

That being said, you may set limits on what YOU will do. For example, after an initial organization of their rooms, labeling totes and bins with them and basically providing them with an infrastructure and some clues on how to stay organized, you can then just refuse to help them clean up their rooms. If they start to look like something out of the show "Hoarders," then you can also go on strike in other ways. When they lose toys or can't find things, you don't help them find the things. Not out of spite, but because you're modeling that this is their responsibility, and you've really tried to help them by organizing their room and giving them good tips on maintaining it, but really after that point it's not your job. You have plenty of "mom things" (or "grownup things") to do! I often find myself saying that to my son. "When you were a little baby I did all these things for you because you could not do them. But now you are growing up and you are very competent. These are your jobs now. I am here to help within reason, but they're yours to do."

This story is a little bit of a tangent, but it speaks to kids internalizing what they need to do:
Last night my son and I were talking (he is 7, almost 8). It was 12:30 a.m. and he asked "Can I build a superhero in bed?" Now I know from experience that if I say No he's going to do it anyway. But that's because saying No would be completely nonsensical. The truth is, I want HIM to be able to judge. He can ask my opinion, of course. I said "Why do you ask me whether you can do this? You know that if I say No you are going to do it anyway. I think that's really disrespectful to do. I'd rather you just ask my opinion, and I will tell you 'I think that you need your sleep and at 12:30 a.m. it's not a good idea to start building superheroes in bed.' " He started to tell me that it's a battle between his Wants and his Needs. That his Needs (for sleep) were real weak, like Native Americans with bows & arrows, and that his Wants (to play all night) are strong, like modern-day soldiers with machine guns. That was his analogy, so I hope nobody is offended by that, but I thought it was a vivid one, and very self-aware for his age. Well I said good luck with that! He seemed distressed and did not want to end the night on that note. So I said, why don't your Wants and Needs work out a deal? You can play for a little bit, but then turn out the lights and go to sleep. And that's what he did. Today he had to go to Sunday school pretty darn tired. But he will learn over time…."When I stay up late, I feel dog-tired the next day." And a better habit will be born. I just have to be patient.

Back to the topic of room-cleaning. Sometimes I just see that my son is overwhelmed and I have to step in. I will say "I'm not going to do X (fun thing) with you until you clean off your desk. Your desk can't be used right now, it's so messy. And you have lots of projects you enjoy doing; you need a space to do them" And I point to a checklist I made for him and had stuck on his wall. The checklist is like so:

First, look for
Toys (and put away any toys you see in the pile)
then Books
then Trash
then Drawings
then Art Supplies

(by going one thing at a time it helps him be less overwhelmed)
The point is, we're not on opposing teams here….I'm not disappointed or mad that he needs this help, so I just give him the pointers and let him do it. But if it is something that's gone on too long and really needs cleaning, I just put the Fun Activity With Mama right on the other side of it. He has to get through the cleanup to get to the activity. That's life.

Hope that helps. I really ought to write a book, for all the brevity I don't achieve here on this forum.

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#3 of 6 Old 01-30-2011, 09:41 AM
 
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I'm not as child-centered as some, especially as kids get older (when they're babies, it's totally different, of course). I prefer to think of myself as "family centered." In your situation, I would call a family meeting and let everyone know what the problems in the house are. I would make it less about what you did or didn't teach them, and more about what it takes to keep the house and family running smoothly.

 

I'd talk about consequences of not doing chores (No clean dishes?  Nothing to eat on. A messy bedroom? We can't find our toys/clothes.). I'd talk about how everyone is old enough/big enough to pitch in as a family to make the home more peaceful and not over-burden any one person.

 

Then, I'd discuss with them the chores they think they can do (present your list or let them brainstorm first). Ask them to get specific about when/how they can accomplish the chores (Make my bed right after I get up in the morning. Put my clothes away right after school). Then, let them come up with consequences and rules.  For example, chores before play. If they think chores take soooooo looooong (as my kids used to think), you could run a little experiment by setting a timer while everyone does their chores to get a realistic view of how little time it actually takes. Another rule might be, If you don't do chores during the week, they get done on Saturday.  

 

I also find that having a reminder/chart in a central place helps everyone. I don't have a good memory about what needs to be done and I get overwhelmed easily with all the jobs that need to be done, too, so making a big visual for the kids is equally important for me.


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#4 of 6 Old 01-30-2011, 01:25 PM
 
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i am not sure i agree its a habit we help our kids with that will last their whole life.

 

i think doing chores, being organized is a personality trait. 

 

i have been doing chores since a toddler. not forced, but as a family contribution. 

 

my house still looks like a train wreck. i struggle really hard to keep it organized and picked up. its a struggle, struggle.

 

dd is just the opposite. she has her area always organized and picked up. not the bed or once in a while dirty laundry. she might kick off her laundry at night but in the morning will always put it away. thru my chaos she is a area of neatness. 

 

in our house too it isnt about your room or my room, your work vs my work. its more about getting things done. never really done a chores list or anything like that.


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#5 of 6 Old 01-30-2011, 07:41 PM
 
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My kids are still younger, but one thing that I do (which I read about somewhere) is to think about chores and tasks and nagging as a monkey on my back.  Am I carrying their monkeys around, or am I letting the kids carry their own monkeys?  So I try to remind myself not to carry their monkeys, but instead to just ask them if they are ready or done. 

 

That sounds a little bizzare - for example, for us and the ages of my kids it's using the bathroom.  They need to go, flush, wash, turn off the light.  I do my best not to point out all the little things they need to do, but when they leave the bathroom and I know they haven't done it all I will ask, "Did you finish everything?"  That way they go through the things they need to do in their own heads and they can check for themselves.  It is their responsibility then, and I am not nagging (but I do sort of remind/help them by my asking).

 

So for tidying their room, you could set up the concept that before play on Saturdays rooms must be clean.  Then on Saturdays you can ask them, "Are you ready to play today?"  Then you aren't nagging and pointing out things they have to do, but you are asking them to assess if they are ready/free to play.

 

HTH

 

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#6 of 6 Old 01-31-2011, 06:22 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by homemademom View Post

I'm not as child-centered as some, especially as kids get older (when they're babies, it's totally different, of course). I prefer to think of myself as "family centered." In your situation, I would call a family meeting and let everyone know what the problems in the house are. I would make it less about what you did or didn't teach them, and more about what it takes to keep the house and family running smoothly.

 

I'd talk about consequences of not doing chores (No clean dishes?  Nothing to eat on. A messy bedroom? We can't find our toys/clothes.). I'd talk about how everyone is old enough/big enough to pitch in as a family to make the home more peaceful and not over-burden any one person.

 

Then, I'd discuss with them the chores they think they can do (present your list or let them brainstorm first). Ask them to get specific about when/how they can accomplish the chores (Make my bed right after I get up in the morning. Put my clothes away right after school). Then, let them come up with consequences and rules.  For example, chores before play. If they think chores take soooooo looooong (as my kids used to think), you could run a little experiment by setting a timer while everyone does their chores to get a realistic view of how little time it actually takes. Another rule might be, If you don't do chores during the week, they get done on Saturday.  

 

I also find that having a reminder/chart in a central place helps everyone. I don't have a good memory about what needs to be done and I get overwhelmed easily with all the jobs that need to be done, too, so making a big visual for the kids is equally important for me.


This exactly.  And I did start a chore chart.  It's worked so much better.  They have a couple easy daily chores, along with keeping their areas picked up.  On weekends when I really clean, they get jobs to do to help out.  It's all just part of being in our family.

 

I don't make them do their chores at a certain time.  After school, they get a snack and get to play.  I will remind them once or twice about chores, just the fact that they need to do them, same as I do with baths.  And they do great. 

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