Kids and errands

I have, what I think to be, a higher than usual hyperactive child. It’s always been a challenge to keep him distracted while my wife and I catch up on any semblance of chores. I saw all the videos of Japanese kids cleaning their classrooms, and thought what the hell? Why is my kid not doing at least 10% of these kids! So alas, the 7 year old has been given a list of errands (not without resistance) to do. Anything from helping fold the laundry, putting his clothes in the closet, vacuuming, dusting, wiping the tables, etc. Life is much better now, slightly more in control (he’s still hyperactive though, but at least some chores are being done). But here are a few things I learned along the way:

  • Explain clearly, and in small batches, what needs to be done. Don’t explain the whole process, try steps 1 to 2 and then follow up with 3 and 4. i.e. first the folding then the sorting, then the hanging of the clean laundry.
  • Kids can take on a lot more than you think, if they have incentive. i.e. yes you can have that Popsicle or play 20 minutes of iPad if you dustpan the whole living room, they’ll do it!
  • Always quality control, at least in the beginning. They’ll cut corners guaranteed, the key is for them to know they can never get away with it. That’s the only way they’ll stop doing a crappy job.
  • Compliment them as they do things, it’s surprisingly rewarding to them, and even more so if you brag about it to your spouse or family that your child is helping out. Make sure they hear the praise, they will likely to keep doing things for the mere appreciation alone (well almost).
  • Money should not be a factor here, otherwise they will expect it with everything and they won’t help unless money is involved. Rather symbolic rewards like going out for a walk together to the park or to a quick ice cream (occasional not for each task or each day) should be the way to go.
  • Make sure your spouse is onboard, otherwise they will find a loophole and get them to “help” or do it for them. Having said that they should be helped if they really need it, especially in the beginning as they find their way around.
  • Of course it goes without saying the errands should be fun (as much as can be) and definitely within their capacity, nothing dangerous or can cause them to hurt themselves. Be reasonable, so that this becomes a great life lesson for them instead of a bad memory for years to come.

Do you do this with your own kids? If so any other tips to help with the process?


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