So do you bribe your kids to help round the house?

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Kids, cleaning and chores made easy !

This week I was invited as a guest to attend the Home Renaissance Foundation International Conference on Excellence in the Home  in Central London and to read more about my adventures of meeting Aggie MacKenzie -The Dirt Dectective from the highly popular Channel 4 Series go to =>

Keeping with the theme of  my interview on The Vanessa Show airing on April 18th at 2.15 on Channel 5 about bribing kids to do as you ask, I’d like to introduce you to a great new friend of mine Dr Lynne Kenney.

Dr Lynne Kenney is a mother of two, a practicing pediatric psychologist in Scottsdale, Arizona and the author of The Family Coach Method. She is also the host of The Family Coach Solution Studio on BlogTalk Radio

Here is her super blog post on:

Routines, Tasks and Chores To Teach Independence and Responsibility.

“Getting kids to complete tasks of every day living is important to their development.

If each morning you hear yourself saying, “I said, brush your teeth,” or “I said, make your bed,” consider the value of clear expectations.

Instead of making a battle out of it, consider your approach. Are you clear in what you expect?

Have you clarified if the expected action is a personal or family contribution?

Do you assert your expectations modeling peace not anger?

Are you enhancing family relationships over asserting control?

Teach your children the value of contributions early on by teaching daily routines, tasks and chores. Be clear, be concrete and be consistent.

Teach, model and expect peacefully and calmly, your expectations, posture and tone will guide the outcome.

STEP #1 Identify Daily Routines For Your Children

Helping your children to identify the components of their daily routine is one step toward practicing independence and responsibility.

“We use task lists to keep the children focused on their brief responsibilities each morning,” says Diana from Chicago.

Developing independence take 1) Knowing the expectation 2) Having the skills to exhibit the expected behavior and 3) Being recognized for the success in order to increase the likelihood of exhibiting the behavior next time.

Establish a daily task routine. Make play dates, sports and family fun dependent on their accomplishing specific tasks. It’s very simple, you give to the family and the family gives back. Make each child a task list and hang them on the bathroom mirror. These are tasks of daily living and do not confer money they are just a part of being a responsible family member.

Write the tasks down.

JAMES, age 9

Get up
Make bed
Get dressed
Put PJs under pillow
Eat breakfast
Clear the table
Brush teeth
Brush hair
Get backpack
Out the door

Place a 4 x 6 task card on the mirror in the bathroom for each child to check off daily.

“The index card helps the children feel some mastery over their daily activities, they don’t have to keep checking with me to guide their responsibilities, they know clearly what they are,” offers Diana.

STEP #2 Assign Daily and Weekly Chores

Chores are separate from personal tasks (part of a daily routine) as they are done for the good of the community. Chores teach children the value of living in a group, a community, a family.

I look at chores as valued family contributions. When you live in a home where everyone contributes it is a clean, happy well-run home that is enjoyed by all.

Chores are a part of making expected contributions to the household. Children do not earn money for doing what is expected. They are expected to be a productive part of the family, their tasks are a piece of that, just as listening respectfully and being kind are expected.

Susan from Milwaukee offers this advice, “At our house, the kids are expected to help the “family community” for which they do not get paid money. Just as I make their breakfast or dinner and do their laundry, they have ways in which they contribute to the community. Making their bed, wiping the sink after they brush their teeth, setting the dinner table, and clearing their plates from the table are typical every day expectations.”

Jane from Scottsdale agrees. “We have “chores” listed on our fridge, the kids do some each day and some weekly. If we have a big project or something outside the chore list we need done we might offer $2-$5 for that extra activity mostly to support the children’s piggy banks.

“On Saturday there is a pretty good chance that our preschool and school-age children will help out, as they can earn valuable spending money for their participation. This money goes to things they care about like horseback riding, going to the water park and having movie night at home. Without hard work there are no horses and there are no trips to the mall, that’s just the way it is,” Jane says confidently.

STEP #3 Model Your Values

If you are going to give allowance for everyday household tasks, make sure you establish a specific amount, be consistent in giving it out each week and make sure the children complete the tasks assigned to earn allowance.

It is important to also suggest that children do not need to “consume” everything they like. Children can enjoy things in a store and leave them in a store. Life is not about accumulating stuff it’s about caring for people.

Kim from Boston offers some clear advice, “When we go to the store, I do not agree to buy the kids small toys or objects that they can purchase with their allowance. We have a ten dollar per week maximum of allowance earned=2 0and they can use that to buy the newest Polly Pocket or Lego toy.”

“Further, they are encouraged to put one dollar in savings and one dollar in our “community jar” to give away at the holidays to families in need. If every child contributes, they often have more than one hundred dollars to give away at the holidays, which teaches them to be compassionate as well as generous. They learn the value of hard work early with a spend, save, and donate system,” asserts Kim.

Consider delineating what are expected family contributions in your home. Create a morning and evening task list for each child. Keep it simple with (3-8) discrete tasks. If you wish to help your children learn about money management, develop a chore list, assign fees, and encourage your children to spend, save and give. Teach your children the value of contributing to the family in the early years.”

To find out more about the lovely Dr Lynne Kenney go to => and tell her I sent you!

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About the author

Sue Atkins is a Parenting Expert who offers practical guidance for bringing up happy, confident, well behaved children. She is also the author of “Raising Happy Children for Dummies” one in the  famous black and yellow series published worldwide and the highly acclaimed Parenting Made Easy CDs. She regularly appears on BBC Breakfast and The Jeremy Vine Show on BBC Radio 2 and her parenting articles are published all over the world.

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  Sue Atkins the Parenting Expert
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