Hello Washington Parent Readers! Last week I received a question from a mother about how to get her kid to do chores and homework in a timely manner. I’m sure we can all relate to this!
Hi Coach Deborah,
I am struggling with getting my 10-year-old to help around the house and to do homework in a timely manner.
Maybe I am expecting too much for a child this age. I need help in setting reasonable expectations.
Thank you for sending this question. You speak for so many parents and I am happy to support you.
10 is a great age to begin putting systems in place for your child to follow. A big part of getting your child’s buy-in is having them assist with creating what that system is. So start with a conversation including what the expectation is. Also, children need structure although they don’t desire it. So consider starting with connecting the things they want to do with having completed the things they have to do. For example, screen time when homework is done or a reward for extra screen time. And if it’s not done, perhaps an earlier bedtime or less screen time for a day or two. Also, fun/games, time with friends, etc. occur after chores are done. However, for more incentive, consider attaching things they can “earn” after doing chores. Extended bedtime or even an allowance if you’d like. I don’t normally encourage parents to use money for chores, because honestly, it’s how our children can contribute to the home, but sometimes desperate times call for desperate measures!
Lastly, the goal is to remove the distractions so that they can accomplish the task at hand. Allow your child a few minutes to have a snack and unwind from the day (15-30 minutes) and then it’s time to do homework. In addition, select a day/time for chores. If it’s the dishes, they should be done within 30 minutes of dinner being complete, for example. If it’s washing their own laundry (yes, 10-year-olds can do that, too) let them pick the day/time. My daughter washed her clothes every Friday after school from 5th grade on.
These are all life skills that will serve our children well as they continue to grow. Systems like these also lessen the time we have to remind (or nag) them. These tasks can very easily be placed in their phones with reminders set to repeat weekly or daily. In addition, there are several apps that allow everyone with the password to see how and when tasks are to be completed.
Finally, children hate the word chores, so I suggest a Family Responsibility Chart. Consider including everyone on the chart. I included my own responsibilities on ours. It gave our kids a feeling that we were all in this together.
Hope this helps,
Submit your questions for Coach Deborah about parenting, mom guilt, mom shaming, less chaotic mornings, self-care or whatever’s on your mind. Email your questions to email@example.com. Then check the column frequently, because your question just might be the one chosen!
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