In any family (but certainly in a large one) children must learn responsibility. Parents simply should not have to micromanage everything their child does, especially once they reach high school (and certainly once they’ve made it into college!). But to keep your offspring from becoming lazy or helpless 21-year-olds, you must start early on.
But how do you teach children to be responsible? Well, it should start with the parents. When children see their parents completing chores and tasks with a good attitude, they will grow up with a good attitude towards such things. And, of course, having incentives works pretty well. Some of the ways my own parents used incentives on us were by telling us that after we completed homework or chores (or whatever the task at hand was), we’d get to pay outside, make cookies, get to watch TV, or do something else fun. Notice that these activities were never bribes. But rather, the results of completing a necessary task. It’s good to avoid the use of the word “if” (as in if you clean your room) because that “if” suggests that the chore isn’t really necessary and tells they child that it doesn’t actually have to get done.
Other things my parents did to encourage us to get chores done was to make sure that the end was in sight. For example, Mom would tell us we each had to pick up 25 items out of the playroom. That way we knew we’d be done after a certain point and everyone had to do their fair share. And when we did big cleans for company, Mom would make a list of everything that needed to be done. After we completed an item, we got to cross it off the list. Crossing things off the list made us feel like we were making great progress and urged us to do something else on the list. Another tactic Mom used was timing us (or at least pretending to). If we were at all hesitant about doing a chore she said, “I bet it won’t take you very long to do it; here, let me time you. Okay…GO!” And off we’d be. We just had to prove how fast we were.
It’s important that parents teach their children how to be responsible and help out around the house. This will teach them that chores are just a part of everyday life and not horrible burdens. Remember to make chores fun and let your kids know that you appreciate their help.