What if you won a contest and the prize was for a genie to instantly clean and do menial jobs around your home for you?
Sounds wonderful, does it not? A busy mother recently stumbled onto an idea that seemed like a perfect solution to her messy house. She had been extremely busy and said her house showed it. Her three children had been grounded for being late to school so she came up with a list of chores like laundry and filling the dishwasher so she assigned a value to each task from 10 to 100 points to remove the grounding. Within a very short time one child had earned enough points to be ungrounded and the other two were close behind. The mother posted the list of chores, along with the children’s names, on Facebook.
The mom’s goal was to get her house clean, I think, and to throw in a measure of punishment for the children’s being late for school. There is no doubt that the children were punished and they did clean the house, which freed up some of the mother’s time so I would say her objective was met. Many parents also thought this was a wonderfully clever idea to get the house cleaned.
Embarrassing the children on Facebook, though, was probably not a good idea but she did get the work done. The house looked great and the family enjoyed a nice meal, thanks to the son who was lucky enough to snag the 50-point responsibility. I am wondering if there is a lesson in this for the children.
Questions remain for me:
• Do the children not do chores on a regular basis before this event?
• Will only do chores when they are grounded or to be punished?
• Why didn’t the mom simply hand the children a list of chores that she needed help with?
• Who will do chores when the children are no longer grounded in the future?
• Now that the children think of chores as punishment, will they ever want to do them regularly?
It is almost impossible to punish children one day with chores and expect them to embrace them the next.
As you can tell, I did not think it was a good idea for the mother to post this online for the world to see. The embarrassment to the children alone would keep me from doing something like that. I believe the mom acted out of frustration and anger when she was feeling overwhelmed. I once wrote a note to my family when I felt much the same way but I dealt with it in private.
Many years ago, when my children were much younger, I learned in my Parents Anonymous group that children need chores for many reasons, one of which was for the feeling of accomplishment. My children were fortunate that I found Parents Anonymous!
“Don’t do for children what they can do for themselves.”
~ Arlene Prince, Parents Anonymous Facilitator