Family Helpers

Submitted by PeterAKenny on August 28, 2018

Five-year-olds and up are capable of learning and performing several household chores. 

Enlisting your foster or newly-adopted child as a family helper has two significant advantages.  First, their self-image may be improved by being encouraged to contribute a simple but important effort. And second, chores are a good way to integrate him or her into the everyday life of your family.  The clear but quiet message: You are truly one of us. You belong.

What tasks may be assigned depend upon the needs of the family and the age of the child. The overall principle is to keep the tasks simple and short. At the same time, chores need not be mere busy work.  Use them to teach basic abilities. Learning to organize and clean and prepare for meals and cook can provide lifetime skills.  

You might ask your child to clean up his or her room once or twice a week. Set a specific day and time with a deadline. Make a brief performance chart with three or four sub-tasks.  For example; 1. Make bed.  2. Pick up floor.  3. Dirty clothes in basket. 4. Clean clothes put away.

Take time to monitor and set a deadline. Try not to nag. Provide a token reward if the room is cleaned on time.  If not, clean the room together with your child but without a reward. Rewards should be real, immediate, and appreciated.  They might include a sweet or food treat or a small but special privilege. 

Helping out at suppertime provides another good opportunity. Setting the table with plates and silverware nightly or on certain nights is an easy but important job. Again, don’t keep reminding your child.  Tell him or her once or twice. Then do it yourself without comment, but also without any small reward. 

Another suppertime task might be to work together as you and your child prepare one food item.  Dessert is a popular place to start. If your child is enthusiastic, this might lead to teaching him or her other cooking skills. It can be a good feeling to help prepare meals for one’s new family.

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