Requiring your teen to do chores around the house helps build responsibility, according to the National Mental Health and Education Center, and gives teenagers valuable experience for when they leave your home. Knowing how to cook, operate the washer and dryer and use a floor sweeper means your children can feed themselves and look freshly dressed -- even when the teen can't operate an iron. Developing a working checklist to advance your teenager to this point, however, requires family discussion and preparation.
Teens learn about the workings of a household by getting involved in some of the important jobs around the home. Assigning teenagers responsibilities, including yard care, meal preparation, laundry duties and basic cleaning jobs, helps develop the concept of contributing to the well being of the family. Using a chore checklist also teachers your teenager how to break a complex job down into individual components to complete a task within a set time period.
The University of Minnesota Extension recommends sitting down as a family and discussing the assignment of household chores. While asking your teen to volunteer for duties delivers a more cooperative worker, each family member must take some of the unattractive chores. Assigning a rotating list of basic responsibilities helps your teenager understand the amount of time necessary to complete household duties and develop an appreciation for the family member assigned to that duty. The extension service suggests meeting once a week to discuss the chore assignments.
Discuss a fair division of the chores as a family. Not all jobs take equal time to complete. Assignments might balance labor-intensive duties with a number of small assignments. The heavy chore might also rotate to different family members throughout the month. Match chores with ability levels. Duties involving heavy lifting, for instance, might injure a young teen.
Feature the checklist in a prominent location in the house, such as the kitchen refrigerator or a bulletin board in a family area. The location reminds all family members of the assignments. Allow your teenager the right to hide the checklist, however, when friends visit your house. Some teenagers feel embarrassed sharing the details of the assigned chores with friends who may not have assigned duties at home.
It would be nice to have your teen finish everything on the chore checklist every week, but the list requires a program for enforcement, according to the National Mental Health and Education Center. An incentive system, such as an allowance, might encourage your teen to complete chores on the list. This, however, means selecting rewards your teen finds attractive. Talk with your teenager about reasonable rewards for good work. This might include a later curfew or extra time for watching television. Rewards need not include money. If rewards fail to motivate your child, punishment might be necessary when teens fail to complete chores. Limiting access to the phone, computer or television until your teen finishes the assigned chores motivates some teens to complete the list.
- University of Minnesota Extension: Teens and Family Responsibilities
- National Mental Health and Education Center: Teenagers and Chores -- Guidelines for Parents
- KidsHealth: Allowance Basics
- HealthyChildren.org: Chores and Responsibility
- Kids Health Line: Motivating Kids to Do Chores
- Family Education: The Importance of Chores
- Akron Children's Hospital: Why Children Should Do Chores and What's Age Appropriate
- Family Education: I Did It All By Myself! An Age-by-Age Guide to Teaching Your Child Life Skills
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