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CHORES

Every child must be taught to:

• Pick up after himself or herself

• Keep his or her own space clean

• Clean up after using common areas like bathtubs

• Share in the daily, weekly, seasonal household and yard chores

• Learn to do simple cooking and survival food shopping.

• Sons must also be taught how to do such chores as laundry, vacuuming, cooking — and expected to do so.

• Daughters must be taught how to do yard and garage chores and simple house repairs — and expected to do so.

Our sons will live in a world where most women work outside the home. It is highly unlikely your sons will find, or be able to keep, mates if they don’t know how to do household chores. Our daughters will live in a world where every woman must be able to care for herself which means being able to survive without a man around the house. Stereotypes won’t work in our brave new world.

All children must be taught how to be responsible. This means doing a chore without being told, being the kind of person that others in the family can count on to take out the trash, feed the dog, or start dinner.

How do parents create a responsible house mensch (Mensch is a useful Yiddish word which means “decent, responsible, caring person”) and prevent their kids from turning into house slobs?

o START EARLY! Start in toddlerhood. with “Let’s put our toys away!” and progress to “Jody, you can’t go out to play until you clean up the Lego!” Three year olds can be taught to put dirty clothes in a hamper; hang up jackets, pajamas, and towels on reachable hooks; pick up and sort toys; straighten out magazines on a table; put silverware and pots away–and even empty the dishwasher if you use unbreakable dishes and store them on low shelves.

o Be PATIENT AND CONSISTENT because learning household tasks and learning how to assume responsibility for household tasks takes time and maturity.

o As the child grows, increase the tasks and begin to give the child RESPONSIBILITY for the task. This means the child does the task without being reminded to do so. It may take years (or even decades!) before everybody does chores without being reminded but keep at it!

o When the children reach school age, start FAMILY MEETINGS to find an equitable way to distribute and monitor the chores. Make a list of all household chores. Let the children chose which chores they wish to do–and draw lots for the rest. Set up an appointment with each child to show him or her how to do the chores. Ask the children to set up and keep a chart of who does what and when. Make a deadline column so it’s clear to everybody that clearing the table means no later than 15 minutes after dinner. Ask your children to devise a method of policing themselves and handling delinquency. Some families appoint a monitor for the week who makes sure all tasks are done and done on time.

o Explain carefully that failure to be responsible for the assigned chores, has its LOGICAL CONSEQUENCES. If you didn’t finish the dishes you can’t go to the mall with Dad.

o Be sure to PRAISE the children when chores are done responsibly. Be specific. “Putting away the groceries so quickly was a big help!” Leave notes not only to require action (“You didn’t take out the trash so you are expected to clean the garage on Saturday.”) but also to praise a job done well and on time.

o EXPECT your children to do the tasks they have been assigned and to assume responsibility for these tasks. When you expect mature behavior you give an important message to your children. You don’t think they are babies, you respect them as responsible citizens of your family.

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