It’s no surprise we live in a self-centered, instantly-gratifying world… It seems like everywhere we turn there are examples of entitled individuals (of all ages) expecting everything to be done for them. As parents, my husband and I have strong feelings about not raising entitled children. And though we might live in an entitled society, we want our children to grow up to be kind, giving, self-sufficient and successful individuals. Along with our tips below, we’ve picked up a few great ideas from this book if you’re looking for another good resource. Our society desperately needs individuals who aren’t afraid to get their hands dirty with work; ones who have a desire and determination to make their world better by their actions; and ones who choose to do good of their own volition.
But, how can we encourage our children to become these types of adults with so many negative influences? Well, for starters, WE set the example. Children learn by watching and doing. So naturally, a parent’s example is a primary source of love, knowledge, and understanding. In our home, we teach our kids the value of self-sufficiency. We show them how to seek opportunities to help others. They learn the value of routine, self-discipline, and self-empowerment. They feel a sense of belonging and significance and that encourages positive behavior. All of these characteristics create a foundation for helpful and successful children.
The #1 Way to Help Your Child Become a Successful Adult
GIVE. THEM. CHORES.
Yep! You read that right. SO many studies show that kids who participate in chores at home become more successful adults.
Julie Lythcott-Hains, former Dean of Freshmen at Stanford University and author of “How to Raise an Adult,” also has a phenomenal Ted Talk on the topic. (Check it out here.) I’ve never liked the term chores, so below I’m going to share with you why we no longer give our kids “chores” and what we’ve chosen to do instead.
Family Contributions VS Chores
What are family contributions?
Family contributions are household responsibilities shared by everyone in the family. They are the things that are required and/or encouraged for a household to run well. Each job is split up and completed while considering everyone’s age and physical capabilities. These tasks instill a value of service for others and create a strong foundation for good work ethic, teamwork, and family bonding. When you put the focus of participating in family contributions on the family everything takes on a new meaning. Each job encourages intentional living and helps everyone tune in to the needs of someone else.
What are chores?
We all know what chores are: boring, mundane and uninspiring tasks that no one wants to get stuck with. Even hearing the word “chore” I automatically think of something that I don’t want to do. (Yes- giant pile of laundry, I’m thinking of you.) The term “chores” carries such a negative connotation in our society. This negativity directly affects the attitude toward the work which can make it seem even more unappealing. And let’s face it if adults can’t stand the thought of “doing chores,” how are we supposed to get our kids to do them willingly?
Why family contributions?
- Less Work for Mom and Dad
With more helpers, the work is dispersed. Mom and dad are no longer the only people who take care of the household responsibilities – and why should they? It should be a family effort.
- Teaches Children the Value of Working Hard
Establishing a strong work ethic is an invaluable skill so many individuals lack these days. By including kids in family contributions they gain the skills.
The Little Red Hen Approach
As a family we all pitch in, therefore we all get the reward. These “rewards” include everything from having a roof over your head and food to eat to activities and family vacations.
[A] roll-up-your-sleeves- and-pitch-in mindset, a mindset that says, there’s some unpleasant work, someone’s got to do it, it might as well be me … that that’s what gets you ahead in the workplace. – Julie Lythcott-Haims
Prepares a Solid Foundation for Independent Living
Teaching our kids to do basic life skills sets them up for success when they’re older. They learn how to do things for themselves which encourages a sense of pride and accomplishment.
Create an Attitude Shift
They CHOOSE to contribute to the family. It isn’t something they’re being forced to do by the threat of death. They recognize their ability to contribute in meaningful ways and this is one way that motivates and encourages their sense of belonging and significance. To learn more about that theory click here.
How to Implement Family Contributions:
Family Contribution Board
I made this family contribution board to help bring some structure and consistency to our tasks. The kids love the visual aid and I love that I don’t have to remind everyone what things need to be done for the day.
Each night before I go to bed I like to plan things out for the next day. Since my husband has a crazy pilot schedule and I’m solo-parenting more often than not, planning beforehand really helps me be prepared. Part of this preparation includes the family contribution board. I think of what we have going on the next day, assign the contributions I need to get done and then I assign contributions for the kiddos based on what we have time for. When my husband is home he jumps right in with helping out too. No one gets left out and everyone participates in some way. The kids get to see what mom and dad do and how they get to chip in their own efforts. Wins all around!
Daily Schedule – Routine Charts
In our home, we have a set of routine charts for our girls. (You can snag a set for yourself here.) Family contributions are done at least once per day with the exception of some contributions extending the length of the day (like the “energy saver”).
The key to keeping our routine is to stick with it, but be flexible. Not every day is the same at our house. While there are typical things that happen, there is always room for things to not go as planned. This is where it saves some time (and a little sanity) to be flexible. Consistency is key and our girls are little, so we shoot for general times within our routines.
Make it Age-Appropriate
While our kids are little, my husband and I make sure we teach them skills they can handle. As they grow and develop we can build on their skill-set. Here are some free printables with some age-appropriate suggestions for your own family contributions.
Make it fun!
There are so many ways to get motivated to do family contributions. Here are a few things that work for us!
- Turn up some tunes and dance away while you wipe down the counters.
- Set a timer and have a race!
- Do your family contribution as a goofy character! (Parents can totally get in on this too! ;)) Our girls love pretending to be dancing robots, clucking chickens or even the Queen of England while they help with their family contributions. It gets their imagination going and makes the job more fun!
- Play the silent game – the girls like to do their “silent cleanups”. They see who can be the quietest while they race to do their jobs.
- The vacuum monster – Jennica and her kiddos came up with a fun way to get their kids in on the contribution bandwagon! We tried it out and our girls LOVED it.
Whatever you come up with, show your kids that family contributions can be fun if they set their minds to it! Remember when it comes down to it, participating in family contributions is a way to show love and gratitude to each other. You’re setting an example of kindness and hard work and that goes a long way as a parent.
What is your perspective on family contributions vs chores? How do you inspire good work ethic and helpful children in your home? We’d love to hear from you!
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I loved this! Especially the ways to to make it fun at the end- I’m totally going to try the character way and the silent way. It is funny how our brains work and making it a game is SOO much more effective for my kids!
Thanks Jennica!! The girls really get into it lol. It’s pretty entertaining! I love the things they come up with. Just last night we did our 10 minute clean up before bed as puppies and kitties. They even picked up stuff with their mouths! Haha! So cute and funny. 😀
lol I can totally picture that and it is so cute!
I love the idea of contributions vs. chores! Our kids don’t have any assigned yet, but it’s something that I’ve been thinking about doing. Both of our toddlers are very helpful and love to clean alongside me.
Hi Amberly! (LOVE your name p.s!)
We really adore the idea as well. Toddler-age is perfect! Their contributions don’t have to be anything crazy either as long as they’re age appropriate. I don’t know if you saw the printable list in the article, but it has some great ideas to get you started! Our two oldest girls are just 3 and 5, but they’ve become such big helpers. They really love being able to contribute and feel important!
Cheryl Mortensen says
I love the board! Such a great idea!! Now let’s see if I can find the will power to make one as well… lol
Thank you Cheryl! It has been a huge help at our house! And it was fun to make 🙂 I’m thinking of putting together a little tutorial if that would help? Let me know what you think!
I would love a tutorial on how you made that chart! I’m looking for something exactly like that.
I’ll get right on it! Thanks for your input Jo!
I loved the board as well! If you do a tutorial I would also love to see it! My son is about to start kindergarten and we are looking for something just like this!
Thank you Candice!
Our oldest will be in kindergarten too! Things have been crazy here with family in town, but I will have it out soon. <3
What kind of magnets did you use?
I used 1/4 inch magnets from Michael’s Craft on the back of the wooden discs.
did you ever post a tutorial on the board? I would love a list of all the contributions! You have so many and this is a WONDERFUL idea!!! My Fiance works 50+ hours a week and is going to school full time so he is not home from 4:30am – 11pm Monday through Thursday and this seems like it would help tremendously!!!!
I am SO HAPPY that you like it! It has done wonders for our family. Wowzers he is a busy guy!! I did finally put up a tutorial! Good grief… #momlife. 😀 Check out all the details here: https://mommyconvos.com/the-diy-chart-that-will-encourage-helping-hands/ I would really love to hear how you guys like it! Can’t wait to hear back. <3
Thanks for this, but do you have a printable for the round discs? I see the printable for the list but not in the round disc form.
We had such a huge response from readers asking how the chart was made that I had to turn it into it’s own little article! Haha. You can find that article here: https://mommyconvos.com/the-diy-chart-that-will-encourage-helping-hands/ Hope that helps!