Parenting Tips – How Chores Helps Kids Self-Esteem

My daughter was invited away for the weekend with her very good friend. As she was putting the clean dishes away and preparing to feed the animals (two dogs and one cat) she said (with pride) “I don’t know what you and Daddy are going to without me this weekend – who’s going to put the dishes away and feed the animals?”

I was thrilled that my daughter not only has really taken ownership of her chores, but that she was concerned about how they would get accomplished while she was away. At the age of ten, 4s she is beginning to recognize how taking care of her responsibilities impacts others, a life skill some of us adults are still trying to master!

In addition to feeling really good about herself and her important role in the family, gaining mastery over the doing of the chores has helped her build her self-esteem.

Many parents believe that we can increase our children’s self-esteem with expressions of love and praise. When parents and teachers give praise and positive feedback for no real achievement it actually undermines a child’s real self-esteem. Children know when they’ve gotten praise for less than their best effort and they don’t feel good about themselves because of it.

Instead, real self-esteem comes from true achievement — when a child takes on a challenge, perseveres and succeeds. This child will feel satisfied, competent and good about himself. You see, self-esteem is really the set of opinions we hold about ourselves. And children can be very hard on themselves.

That’s why having children be responsible for certain chores around the house has so many benefits.

When they first begin taking on the chore, they must learn how to do it properly. As you teach them how to do it, you praise small accomplishments. As they get more proficient at it, they need less and less instruction and supervision from you. Once they are accomplishing it all on their own, they begin to take pride in their efforts.

I like to have chores advance to the next level when I know my daughter has mastered doing the basic part of the chore. For the feeding of the animals, the first step was just gathering up their bowls for me and then putting them down to feed them when I had filled them. The next step was for me to pull the items of animal food from the refrigerator (after she had gathered the bowls) and have her measure out the portions and then feed them.

Now, she gathers the bowls, takes the food items out of the refrigerator, portions them out, feeds the animals their meals and puts whatever is leftover back in the refrigerator. The next step (which we have begun) is 13for her to rinse out the cans the food was in, remove the labels and put the cans in the recycle bin (instead of just leaving them in the sink).

Your child can accomplish anything with a little planning and guidance. Don’t forget to praise their accomplishment with words that recognize exactly what they did right. An example would be “Susie, I’m so pleased that you remembered to rinse out the cans before putting them in the recycle bin,” or “I like the way you arranged the cans of cat food by color.” Your child’s achievements don’t need to be big, they just need to be real and recognized.

So start them on chores when they are young, teach them in small steps, praise their accomplishments and give yourself credit for being a great parent!

Haynes Miller believes in keeping parenting techniques simple and teaches “Platinum Parenting,” a seven week parenting makeover to transform parenting stress into parenting joy. Everybody deserves a happy parenthood!

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