Here are some ways to attack household chores using attachment parenting principles.
As parents who practice attachment parenting, we want to instill a sense of security and belonging in our children. Creating this sense of security and belonging requires family members to fulfill certain responsibilities and expectations — and our kids are no exception.
It pains me to say it, but my son doesn’t have one bit of concern for keeping his room clean. Or his bathroom clean. Or even his book bag or school desk clean. Basically, he sees chores as…well, work. And he’s not fond of work.
When he was younger, chores were more natural because I didn’t expect too much of him and he felt like a big helper. Now, at seven, though, he recognizes there is a need to take responsibility for our things and our actions, and he also understands that often takes effort on his part. Those recognitions don’t always work well together for him.
So, as much as it pains me, I try to gently parent when teaching the value of household chores, and the importance of his part in them. It’s very easy to fall in the trap of believing your child should know what cleaning their room looks like, or cleaning up after themselves involves, but the reality is they may need you to show them.
Their little brains are working so hard day-to-day just to make neural connections for school and peer relationships; they tend to be laxer at home and in secure situations like your family dynamics offer (which is good!), but that may mean they need more of you. More showing and more working with them until you (and they) feel confident they can do it themselves.
It may hurt because eventually, putting the same book in the same place over one billion times will get to you, but when your child is fully aware of expectations, there is a better chance you’ll get the result you are looking for.
Another thing to remember is that as much as you may be stressed about chores being done, your child may not be one bit distressed. This may stress you even more, but you have to remember that you understand family dynamics and responsibility more than they do, and your gentle tone of voice and demeanor will go a lot further than frustration (I’m preaching to myself here!) will.
Experts suggest that encouraging your children goes a long way when compared to praising them, as often praise is result-based while encouragement is effort-based. When your son or daughter does a great job making his/her bed? “Thank you! This helps out in the family workload so much!” tells your child that what she did mattered. “You did a great job making your bed!” is kind and loving, but also result-based, and may make your child lose focus on the effort in favor of result.
Results are absolutely what we are looking for in the end, but when it comes to children and chores, it really is about the process. The saying, “Practice makes perfect,” comes into play here, and gently applying it will pay off!
And when your kiddo gives you a hard time (and he or she most likely will), what can you do?
You don’t give the option of resistance.
Gently, but resolutely, you let them know that yes, the chore will be done, even if they need some encouragement and help with it at that moment. Frustrating as it may be, as it really is their responsibility when your child sees that regardless of wants/feelings about a task, it’s a necessity to the family’s function and one that mama values so much she’ll offer help and encouragement in the doing.
This reinforces your child’s sense of belonging to your family, and mattering in the family, to the point that he or she will want to in turn help mama out, and see the value in their effort. There doesn’t need to be any arguing or negotiation if your child still refuses with your help; you can simply say the task needs to be done and until it is, no other activity or engagement in what they prefer to do can happen.
It takes patience and effort, and lots of persistence but in the end? Worth it.