Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Encouragement Works

I can't even imagine being one of those moms whose child refuses to do chores. I'm constantly racking my brain to try and come up with new things that He-Man can do safely in order to help around the house. He so enjoys being a little helper. I think that the main reason that he's developed such a sense of pride in being helpful is because I use encouragement instead of praise to help motivate him. There is a very slight difference between the two concepts and I feel like, for the most part, I've mastered the art of being an encouraging mother. Lately, I haven't even had to ask or remind him to do his chores. He just jumps in. I say something like, "Wow, I got that done a lot faster with your help. Thanks." or "I sure do appreciate it when I don't have to do all of the work myself. You are a helper." Well, he can't get the work done fast enough. His jobs are to put away the silverware from the dishwasher, put his dishes in the sink, help put away the dishes, and sorting the recycling. He's even gotten pretty good at being careful when he picks up a tin can and careful to gently place the glass into the bins. I'm very impressed. Yesterday I knew that I'd done a great job in the parenting department when I thanked him for putting away the silverware and he said something to the effect of, "I like to do things to help you and dad. If I can do them then there is no reason for you guys to do them." Amazing. I mentioned to him that his desire to take some of the load off us is a great sign of respect and that he should be proud. Just look at him beaming.

I didn't really do chores when I was a kid. I remember that I fed the dog. Most of the time. I put away the laundry occasionally. I dried the dishes and helped put them away. But I don't remember being encouraged for doing them. My parents often stated that my job was to go to school and learn. And well, I don't even have to tell you what I think about that! When I think back to my fragile self-esteem and how much I just needed to feel worthy, accomplished, and appreciated, I can't help but imagine that maybe a little bit of responsibility would have gone a long way.

What are some of the chores you have assigned to your children? Any ideas on chores that are appropriate for a 5 year old boy?


  1. J is 100% responsible for feeding the dogs, and also making sure the dogs and cats have water in their water bowls. He took this on himself when we brought the first dog home almost 4 years ago. (he needed some help then!) He tries to feed the fish, but can't control how many flakes he drops in yet, so we have to keep that food hidden.

    He also brings me the dirty laundry from his and C's room once a week, and then takes his folded clothes back and puts them away.

    He makes his bed daily (or, on the mornings he wakes up in his bed).

    Every Saturday, he cleans the playroom, including sweeping the floor.

    C is responsible for his clothes, and cleaning the bathroom every Saturday. We have tried giving him more, but they never get done. Plus, he spends so much time doing homework after school, there wasn't much time for additional tasks.

    Most meals, we each clear our own dishes, and then grab something else to take to the kitchen as well.

    My jobs growing up were to feed the dogs, walk the dogs in the mornings, start Dad's truck in cold weather, and go to school. Once I got to high school, my job was to go to school, get good grades, and do my extra-curriculars so I could get into college. Luckily, I liked to help with meals and cleaning, or else I would have been worthless. :-)

  2. I'm one of those with the child who doesn't like chores!

    He did when he was younger. He LOVED putting away dishes from the dishwasher.

    Getting him to help clean up is a bit of a struggle.

    Maybe I should encourage him more. I probably do much more nagging than I do encouraging.

    Reading your post....I'm thinking I notice more what he DOESN'T do than what he DOES do. I don't want to be like my own parents. They criticize what we do wrong in terms of helping. They push us away insisting they feel better doing things themselves. They insult us for not being helpful enough. They rarely notice what we do to help. They rarely thank us.

    I don't think I'm THAT bad...yet. Hopefully your post will help turn me more into the right direction.

    It's sad how we can forget and repeat the mistakes of our parents.

  3. What a fabulous helper you have, Mandy! And yes, I'm sure your parenting had everything to do with it. :)

    My older boys unload the dishwasher (cause that's the part I don't like doing!), clear the table of dirty dishes, take out the compost and recycling, feed the chickens and collect eggs, put away their own laundry, help pick up toys (even if the youngest made the mess), and help a bit in the garden.

    And about the vitamin D... I took 10,000 IU weekly for 6 weeks. Now 1,000 IUs daily. This is significantly above the usual recommended dose, but you can find the 1,000 IU dose over the counter. I'm definitely feeling better! I've stayed up until midnight or 1 several nights this week (oops!), which I never would have done even accidentally before. I was crashing at 9 or 10, and dragging myself out of bed at 8. I'm still nursing twice/night, so that hasn't changed too much.

    I'm so glad you got yourself tested! Hope you feel better soon!

  4. interesting. how deficient were you? i also have adrenal fatigue (just partial) and elevated liver enzymes. slight sluggish thyroid but only barely.

  5. G doesn't have any specific chores that he is solely responsible for--except getting dressed & brushing his teeth in the am, does that count? :) We're just big on helping each other out and working together whenever we can. Rick and I both encourage him to help out whenever it seems appropriate. We kind of have a "we all work together as a family" motto goin'. If I'm doing laundry, I'll ask him to bring me his hamper and help me sort. He folds washcloths. He dusts quite a bit--many times without being asked. We help him straighten his playroom whenever it gets too messy (even though it would be much easier and quicker to do it myself!). He usually helps me make beds in the mornings by handing me the pillows for my bed and arranging the pillows/stuffed animals on his. He has a "clean up" basket that I have him use whenever the family room has too much of his stuff in it. He tosses everything in the basket, then takes it all to its appropriate place.

  6. Clearly I am doing something wrong. My daughter feeds the dogs and that's it. She complains about that half of the time.
    I need to do more in the encouraging department. I hadn't thought about how necessary it is for her self esteem.
    Thank you for this post. You've taught me a valuable lesson.

  7. Sherry! We are very much like that! I actually didn't assign H's chores... he did. If I do them for him. he feels slighted!

    Thank you. I hope it helps!

  8. Jay who is 6 cleans the litter box, she is also responsible for her room and the play room. She makes her bed or at least tries and brings the dirty clothes to the laundry room! She picks up all the toys in the playroom. The babies who are only two also have chores! They put their pajamas away when they are washed, pick up shoes from in front of the door, take the dirty trash cans from their bathroom to the big trash can in the kitchen and pick up toys! What I had to learn was to allow them to do it, and not want it to be done perfect therefore doing it myself! That was the hard part!


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