Family Daily Routine & Daily Chores, Working It Out Together
Daily chores and routine is more than a ‘‘Chore‘‘ chart. Introducing it to your children. Talk about time frames and activities. Monitor behavior. Allowance or rewards. Praise. Material & reinforcement.
By Steven Tobias, PsyD and Sarah Itzhaki, PhD
Daily Chores & Daily Family Routine are important part of life.
We get up, dress, eat, tend to our needs, meet others’ needs, work, play, go to bed, and do it all over again the next day. It is necessary to teach children the importance maintaining daily routine activities and how to follow them. Smooth routines make life better not just for the parent, but also for the child, and for the child’s future.
The Routine Chart is not just a “Chore” Chart.
For example: giving back to the family through setting the table, taking out the garbage, vacuuming, etc. reinforces giving to others and empathy; doing homework teaches responsibility and organization; completing tasks within a time frame develops time management skills; following a sequence of tasks (work before play) helps children learn to delay gratification. Therefore, it is necessary to first be clear about what values and skills you want to teach and then explain them to your children. They need to know the “why” of things. You are asking them to help out not to make your life easier, because as any parent knows, it is easier to do it yourself than to try to get your child to do it. You are teaching them to follow daily family activities and chores because it makes their lives better.
It is helpful to introduce the chore chart to your children at a family meeting. Start the meeting with something positive such as a prayer, compliments, joke, or fun question such as, “What is your favorite flavor of ice cream?” Explain the importance of following routines, that it makes everyone’s life easier, reduces conflict, and teaches useful life skills. Talk about what happens or could happen without routines. Have an idea of what to include in the chart but also elicit input from your children. When your children feel they have a say in the development of the chart, they are more likely to have ownership of it and cooperate.
First, Talk About Time Frames And Activities (Time and Mission).
When should it be time to get up? How long will breakfast take? Should homework start right after school or should there be some down time first? Talk about what activities to include and do not forget to schedule fun. The “My window of Harmony” space refers to compromises that you and your child make. For example, you may decide to do something together to make it more fun, or you may negotiate what a clean room actually looks like.
Monitor Behavior On A Daily Basis.
If you do not monitor the daily chore chart consistently, your children will think it is not really that important to you. For monitoring, you can use any kind of rating (checks, points, happy-sad faces) but it is helpful to have some gradation in feedback. Avoid all-or-none feedback and use at least a “poor, okay, good” rating scale. That way, if your child completed the task but not as well as you would have liked, you can reinforce progress towards the goal by giving a middle range rating without discouraging the child’s effort. Middle range ratings can also be given for tasks successfully completed but done with a negative attitude.
Allowance Or Rewards.
The question of allowance or rewards usually comes up in reference to daily charts for chhildren such as these. The answer to this question is, “It depends.” Keep in mind that INTRINSIC MOTIVATION is the strongest INCENTIVE to individuals. If you do something because it makes you feel good about yourself, then you will usually do it regardless of the obstacles you may face. This is what we want to develop in children, and often, just by giving them feedback on their performance, we can tap into this intrinsic motivation. People tend to naturally want to succeed and pointing out a child’s success through monitoring on the chart can often be enough. When giving them feedback, have them reflect on their feelings. Are they proud of themselves?
Another powerful motivator for both children and adults is praise. Someone telling you what a good job you did feels good and usually motivates you to keep doing it. As you complete the daily chore chart with your child, you will naturally give praise on their behavior and they should respond positively to this. When filling out the chart, it is important to either praise the child for their good behavior, or help them figure out what to do the next day so they can be successful. Criticism is usually not motivating for children. Keep it positive.
The weakest form of motivation for children is material reinforcement: money, prizes, etc. Feeling good about yourself and pleasing your parents are much more important. However, children are concrete in their thinking. If you give a toy and praise, the child will tend to focus on the toy rather than the praise because they can see and touch the toy and the good feeling associated with the praise is more abstract. Therefore, you need to be careful about giving material reinforcement because then sometimes the motivation is the prize rather than the child’s good feelings about themselves or their parent.
Overall, the bottom line with respect to daily chores for children is to use what works for your family. If your children do not respond to the self-satisfaction of a chores job well done or to positive messages from you, then it may be necessary to use rewards, either material or access to activities such as TV, video games, etc. However, always have them reflect on their feelings about themselves and make sure you communicate your pride of them when they are successful.