Gretchen’s Journey Part 11
Can’t see the forest through the trees?
…Or the carpet through the toys? 🙂
When my kids were younger, I seemed to read We’re Going on a Bear Hunt frequently enough that I have it memorized. Now these lines from the story naturally come to mind whenever I am up against a challenge .. “Ooh, a forest, a deep dark forest. Can’t go over it, can’t go under it. Oh, no – we’ve got to go through it. Stumble, trip! Stumble trip!”
I do believe these lines sum up the challenge of teaching children to be more responsible. While that result is a big goal for most parents, getting there is not exactly an easy task. It’s certainly not for lack of information. Searching “teaching children responsibility” results in hundreds of articles. In fact, you will find some of the best suggestions on Suzanne’s Pinterest Board: Teaching Children Responsibility.
What those posts usually show are perfectly neat rooms and incredibly organized systems.
When your room looks like the one on the right despite having asked your children to pick up …
Looking at someone else’s clean space may make you want to scream, rather than get started on the process. For me personally I have been assigning specific jobs to my kids for a few months now. Although we have a ways to go, I am seeing progress. Despite the somewhat messy basement that says otherwise. Here is what I have learned from this journey so far.
My kids do NOT like to clean anymore than I do at sometimes. They are fine with living in a messy house. Clutter does not bother them. Neither does the fact that they can’t find their shoes. After all, they can call on me to help them like. This one is always interesting to me anyway – the kids have only TWO spots their shoes are to be found – downstairs in our cupboard or upstairs in their room. If they would only put them away, this dilemma would disappear. Even as I am typing I am reminded of the fact that I have some shoes sitting by our garage door; the tennis shoes that got drenched with all of our rain last week but are certainly more than dry now. I guess we are all a work in progress.
One important note: my kids are all in elementary school now. While they have been helping since they were little, obviously what I expected when my oldest was two is far different than what he has to accomplish at twelve. If you look on the Pinterest board that was created, you will see a list of where to start your kids on chores and which ages can generally complete each task.
So far all I have shared has just been the messes. Yet I promised hope. While there are many, many chore charts and methods out there, I have determined that it does not matter which system you pick. You did read the correctly. All of the options have both benefits and downfalls. What does make a difference? What can you give hope that there is a way out of the mess? Three things.
- Follow Through
Asking my kids to clean the whole house right before bed does not go well. Neither does asking them to do a task the minute their little feet hit the floor. But reminding them fifteen minutes before that they cannot watch tv, the one show that they have been waiting all day to come on, until their job is done seems to result in marvelous cooperation.
This point is also where it helps to know your child. I personally would rather get my jobs done and out of the way first thing. By nighttime, I am ready to collapse and be done. A few of my children are that way, but a few of the others get more energized as the day goes on. Learn when your child functions best, then ask a bit more out of them during that time period.
When your kids have daily tasks expected of them, they begin to learn what to is “required.” If you ask them to complete a chore one day, then do not ask them to do that task again for many days, they are not going to learn the value of contributing their part. For me, that is actually the main selling point of having children complete chores. Helping them to recognize that they are an important member of your household. With that comes both privileges and responsibilities.
I will say that my kids are gradually needing less reminders to complete their kitchen tasks now that they have been helping out in the area. Possibly there are even a few less eye rolls when I request them to stop doing what they want to do to complete what they need to do. As for keeping the rest of the house picked up and orderly, we are definitely still a work in progress. Why?
3. Follow Through
This is my weakest area by far. Somehow I just assume that if I ask the child to do a task, they will naturally want to complete it. Obviously I am living in a dream world. This is where teaching children responsibility gets really tricky. Fine lines exist between nagging (yuck!), reminding (too hard) and realistic expectations. Should they remember that last Thursday I told them that this Saturday they had to clean up the leaves? Probably not. Yet, if I am clear in our routines, such as put away your shoes before bed, “pick up your shoes” should not become my nightly mantra.
Establishing the balance of tasks and rewards is a great starting point. Yet I need to make sure that I pass on the reward consistently, then when I pass along the consequence, it will pinch a bit since they are missing the reward. Working on this aspect takes lots of energy which is something I struggle to muster up at the end of a long day. But I am seeing progress, and I need to keep moving forward!
What is the hardest aspect for you in teaching children responsibility? Please comment below. Please make sure to check out Suzanne’s “Teaching Children’s Responsibility” Pinterest Board. You may just find a solution to help with your struggle.
By the way, the next blog post is all about teaching children HOW to clean and how Norwex products can help with that process. While not providing you with a maid service (sorry), this tips will help you show kids (and maybe a few husbands? :-), how to keep your household spic and span. Or at least neater …