Entitlement – It’s a word that can send shivers down my spine, and something I’m petrified of creating in my children. According to my husband I have already lost that battle and cave at my children’s every whim. If they grow up with a sense of entitlement, thinking the world owes them something, then I’m not doing my job as a mother well.
My boys have a slight obsession with money, a little early right? I tried introducing the concept of pocket money a little while ago to my eldest (now 4). He was 3 at the time and had a meltdown in a kiddie’s toy store for a wooden fire truck. I had to walk out of the store with him crying and throwing a tantrum. I know he is young, I know he doesn’t understand, but I never want to raise a child that’s gets whatever he wants. That day when we got home we created a “Fire Truck Jar”. For every task successfully completed, he got R5. Of course, mommy ended up forgetting half the time, and yes reached my hand into the jar if I was short on cash in a moment. The Fire Truck was eventually forgotten about. The obsession with money however, not so much.
We had another episode with my eldest last weekend. I constantly hear “I want”, “I want” coming from his little mouth. Actually the more he gets, the MORE he wants. China Town with its cheap R20 toys is actually a problem. The latest “NEED” is a Robot. No matter how often I sit him down and speak to him about the value of things, it doesn’t seem to make a difference. I try to make a point of taking the boys with me to under privileged schools and orphanages, so that they can see how much they have. At this age, they actually don’t see the difference (which warms my heart), all they see is potential friends to play with.
Which leads me to question, what is the right age to start introducing chores to our children? As a mom of two boys I want more than anything to raise independent, able men, who are able to do their own dishes and are able to cook their wife a meal. Men that know the value of hard work and that with a little effort and perseverance they can achieve their dreams.
So, we started introducing chores.
It actually turns out, little kids can do a lot around the house.
So we started again, and this time it set. Chores help children to see themselves as people who help, as opposed to people who are helped by others. Aadam now has 3 main chores now every day. He loves to choose his own clothes, so every morning he has to get himself dressed for school, “pull up” his bed (It gets remade but the action of him doing this is enough to melt my heart). He also has to put his toys away before we go to bed. This for some reason, gets him every night. Perhaps it’s because he’s tired, but he is physically incapable of doing this by himself. You have to “help” him through it. I’ve found that creating a “sorting” game out of it helps a bit. By putting cars with cars, colours with colours it’s more of a challenge to him as opposed to just “cleaning”.
Here are some more tips I’ve found when it comes to introducing chores.
Manage your expectations – My boys love to do the dishes, letting them actually do them however a pure action of love on my end. The amount of water that ends up on the floor is more than in the sink. I don’t expect them to do it perfectly, I just expect them to try.
“Help” mummy – Most children LOVE the opportunity to “be a helper”. By making them feel important and choosing them to help you put the toys away for example, your child is leaning so much.
Start off with smaller tasks initially, ease them in with one or two important tasks a week.
Praise matters – Make sure you praise them as much as possible when it comes to chores. Make it an exciting, important task. Use dish-washing as an example; I had to bite my tongue when the boys did their first lot of dishes as so much water ended up on the floor, but to them, they did the best job in the world.
Be flexible – give them a choice of tasks for that week, vacuuming (which my boys will never say no to), or picking up their toys.
Not all rewards are created equal – Star charts don’t work for every child. I tried it with Aadam initially, maybe he was too young at the time, but he didn’t grasp the context. Now with actual, physical coins he is more motivated than ever before. He counts his “gold coins” every morning to find out how many more he needs to buy his robot. Each plastic gold coin is worth R5.
Not sure where to start?
Some basics that are great for toddlers include:
Sweeping, vacuuming, mopping
Watering the garden
Washing the windows
Cleaning the car
Putting their plates in the kitchen after eating
Packing toys away
I would LOVE to hear what chores you have your children do in your house, and how do you “reward” them? Do you think “chores” with rewards create a bigger sense of entitlement or should they be done with no expectation of reward?