What has become of the lovely girl who used to hover around me whenever I expressed distress!
How that angel outgrew the phase of care and concern for his parents and any other (living or non-living) being present around him!
Has puberty (or tween age) hit them?
Or there is some connection missing between me (as the parent) or them?
These are some common worries which occupy our minds from time to time. Thinking of ways our children are developing with time often result in us blaming ourselves for any change in their behavior.
And why wouldn’t we? After all, they used to be so caring when they were little. And passing years are only adding more willfulness in them.
And then we shift the blame to their age.
The Role of Age
Age does have a say in how our kids respond to their responsibilities and role in the house. But that doesn’t mean we have no control over improving the situation for our family’s peace of mind.
It may appear that asking our kids to participate in house chores is only adding stress to our already burnt out mommy brain. But this is just a point of view.
The other viewpoint is that these pleas, threats, shouting matches, and nagging sessions are adding some other ingredients to the mix.
They are empowering your kids with a number of life skills.
The most prominent of which is the skill, or trait, of standing up for them (ahem).
Development of Voice
When we ask them to do some chores, they will know if these chores are directly related to them or not. If they believe these chores are related to them in an obvious manner, their resistance towards doing these chores will be minimal.
But expect them to put up a strong fight if they perceive these chores to be unrelated to them.
Although this friction may pull your spirits down, they are a great developmental tool for your kids in considering and understanding a point of view which is different from their own.
And this broadening viewpoint leads us to another byproduct of doing chores: negotiation skills of your children.
When I was a kid, I used to think that primary aim of negotiation skills was to strike a balance which is favorable to you regardless of benefits attained or losses borne by the other party in negotiations.
Now, I am a grown-up, thankfully. So, I know better.
The fact is, the key to impressive negotiation skills lies in understanding your opponent’s point of view and reaching a middle ground which is beneficial for both of you.
So, if you are patient enough to sell the ownership of these chores to your kids, you are kind enough to indirectly teach them the value of understanding different viewpoints.
This skill of empathizing will help them nurture healthy social skills which are beneficial to not only them but to the whole society.
And then come the actual negotiation skills. Believe me, those shouting matches, demeaning remarks, and taunts can be handled with calm congruence and modeling of healthy communication skills.
Once they are equipped with civilized negotiation skills, you will thank yourself for sticking to your parenting and disciplining goals.
Joy and Confidence
Joy? Will they enjoy doing chores? Doesn’t it seem impossible?
Well, it does at first.
But as they accept the fact that they are responsible they will develop an intrinsic motivation for these chores.
Maslow charted need for self-actualization at the height of human needs for some reason. And that reason was the ultimate value attached to this need.
If you are willing to keep guaranteeing fulfillment of other needs, including safety, love, and growth, there is no way your kids would not thrive to fulfill this higher-order need.
They gain confidence that they can be a positive part of the society because they are capable of performing duties which were previously only levied on adults.
Other than self-actualization, doing chores also appease kids’ need for belongingness. In fact, chores become play when you join the kids by mentoring them about accomplishing the chores after you have ditched judgment and criticism.
And, lastly, you both get to experience each other’s communication style and develop the relationship accordingly.
Assigning chores to children might appear to be an exercise to help parents in getting rid of excess workload. But, in reality, it is a tool for raising happy, self-confident, and self-reliant kids.
You may or may not succeed in developing a healthy chores routine depending on your communication style and not on the number of chores you assign.
So, if you are assigning chores to your kids be ready to extend an empathetic ear to their complaints and understanding, but truthful, answer to these rants.