The healthy family shares family responsibilities. Parents often want to make this difficult by creating complex charts and graphs of who does what when – or if you don’t do complicated, you likely don’t do anything but yell, “Clean up your room!” Teaching and sharing family responsibilities is such an important part of families. This may be as simple as everyone taking a turn emptying the dishwasher or washing dishes or putting out the trash. Or it may be as important as picking up a neighbor’s mail or newspaper when they’re out of town. Everyone in the family takes part in the duties the family takes on.
At first, you may want to let your kids choose which chores to do. If they don’t want to choose for whatever reason, you choose for them. The important thing is that everyone does their share of all the chores in the house.
It’s guaranteed there will be some of your kids who don’t like the duties or chores they get to do. When this happens, assure them the chores are not theirs for life. They will get different chores later. But they have a responsibility to contribute to the family.
Wise families instill an attitude of serving each other in the family. This sometimes requires members of the family to put their wishes/desires/needs ‘on hold’ while they do something for another family member. In this way, people in the family learn to think beyond themselves.
At first, your kids may not want to put their things second behind what someone else wants to do. After all, they’re kids; kids can be selfish (of course, so can grown ups). Make it clear this isn’t really a choice, not at first. Then, be sure also to give your kids a lot of praise for putting others in the family first. This will “stamp in” the good feelings they will get from doing this. Focus on those good feelings that come from doing things for others! It just might stick!
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