Does your child struggle to follow directions? Is getting your child to do any type of work a chore in itself? Many parents find it hard getting their children to follow directions without the threat of punishment. Parenting is a tough enough job without the unnecessary stress of wrestling with your child over waking up for school, homework and chores. In order to lessen the stress, create simple routines for activities your child completes on a regular basis. Routines create structure that will enable your child to do the work on his or her own without your asking or input. Below are a few simple ways to help your child complete daily activities without a hassle.
Instead of waking your children each weekday, have them wake up to their own alarm on a clock, television or cell phone. Set the alarm for the same time each morning so your children can shower and dress at the same time each day. If you allow your children to use a microwave or toaster, set aside an easy-to-fix meal for them at night so they can eat it in the morning. For example, instant oatmeal, cereal and milk, and Pop Tarts are easy-to-make foods for your child to eat while you prepare for work. Finally, allow your children enough time in their morning routine to watch their favorite cartoon, listen to music or read. Many parents rush their children out the door in the morning right after breakfast. However, children need some down time to prepare their brains and body for the rigorous work they do at school. Don’t forget to take this into account. If you give your children 20 extra minutes to settle down, they will go to school feeling calmer, and you will feel a lot less stressed because of it.
Allow your child the opportunity to relax and have a snack after a long school day. He can take a 20-minute nap, or you can just sit and talk with him for 20 minutes while he chomps on cheese and crackers. Afterwards, have your child sit at a designated spot in your home that is conducive to completing homework. It could be a clutter-free kitchen or dining room table that is equipped with pencil, paper and other needed school supplies. Make sure the spot is near you, so you can keep an eye on your child and help if he encounters a difficult problem or gets off task. Set up a reward system with your child, so he can receive a treat after he completes one assignment. For example, you could allow your child to dance to his favorite song after finishing a math assignment or play a video game for five minutes after completing a reading assignment. Rewarding him after each assignment instead of waiting until all homework is finished motivates your child throughout the homework process, and it also allows your child enough break time to do his best on each assignment.
House cleaning routines
If you want your children to complete chores on a regular basis without your input, create a Chore Board. First, post a list of the chores your children need to complete on chart paper, and write the days and times each chore should be completed in an area that is easily accessible to your whole family. Next, take a picture of the outcome of each task and stick the pictures on the Chore Board. Having pictures available helps your children know exactly what you expect of them. To do this, clean each room in your home in the best possible way. Then take a picture of each room.
Post the pictures near the Chore Board, so your children will know how the kitchen should look after dishes have been washed or how the bathroom should look after a proper cleaning. Have your children refer to the Chore Board on a daily basis so they know when and what to clean and how an area should look when they are finished cleaning it. Make the cleaning expectations clear for your children in order to defuse much of the unnecessary stress that managing housework can create.
Take the asking, pleading, and threatening charade out of your daily interactions with your children. Use the routines above to help your children complete everyday activities, and make the lives of you and your children much less complicated.
China Hill is a teacher at KIPP Ascend Charter School on the West Side.