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Family Responsibilities

Rather than assigning our daughter chores, we have her help with the family responsibilities. We have found that she is more eager to help when the duties are varied and not forced upon her. Having this mindset has encouraged her to help with various tasks around the house and gives her independence to choose how she helps.

I can remember doing the dishes when we would visit my grandparent's house. I loved my grandmother's large farmhouse sink; it was so deep that I didn't have to worry about splashing the water out. I would stand on a chair and wash every dish I could. My grandmother was always amused that I thought it was fun and she appreciated the help. I'm sure my want to help her had to do with the appreciation and confidence she had in me. She never complained about me not getting them clean enough and if she ever had to rewash them, she didn't do it in front of me. My grandmother was a very kind and patient person. I enjoyed helping her with anything I could. When I was young her and my grandfather had a dairy farm. They worked so hard and had so many chores to do each day, but they always took the time to show me how to help when we would visit. They taught me how to enjoy the simple things in life and they always made me feel important. I was the only one in the family who didn't like sweet tea, and my grandmother would always have a pitcher of unsweet tea made for me when we arrived. She never made me feel like a burden and she always made me feel loved. Memories like these have definitely influenced the way I parent. I have found that I remember the really good times and the really bad times, everything else seems to fade away.

When my husband and I became parents, we tried chores and allowance with our daughter, but it wasn't for her. She's always been the type who will work to get the things she wants and then she is done. Money and rewards are not what motivate her. When she was potty training, I didn't think that she would ever get it. I tried everything I could to get her to use the potty. We finally started getting somewhere when I got her a prize basket. Each time she went to the potty she would get to pick a prize. She was doing great and getting all the prizes. Then one day she said, "Ok, I got all the one's I want, I'm done now." I tried to explain that she still needed to use the potty, but she was not interested. I told her she couldn't use training pants anymore and that if she went in her panties, she would get wet. After she went in her panties once she decided that she didn't want to do that again. From then on, she was potty trained. Chores were the same way for her. Once we took away the reward and told her that she had to help out around the house since she was part of the family, she did it.

I find that she will help with the same tasks for a few weeks and then she wants to move on to learn how to do something else. The great thing about it is that she is learning how to do everything so that she can help out where needed. She can fold the laundry, empty and load the dishwasher, clean her bathroom sink, sweep, mop, vacuum, help with yardwork, and so much more. We complete tasks as a family, and it is teaching our daughter how important everyone in the family is. She knows that when we work together, we can accomplish more. Much like my grandmother's example to me, I let her do tasks herself and I don't go back and "fix" them or tell her she's not doing things good enough. I know that with practice she will get better. It's about building her confidence and letting her know that I appreciate her help. She will have years of chores ahead of her, so I try to be understanding when she is tired and doesn't want to help out as much. We all have bad days and days where we don't want to do anything, and I want her to know that is normal and rest is important.



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