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Saintliness with work well done

By Sophie Barcant, BA (Psyc), B.ED, Trainer, Facilitator, Parenting Coach/Consultant

We are halfway through the August holidays. How many times have your kids washed your car, washed down the yard or dog kennel, washed dishes, folded clothes, pulled out weeds or mowed the lawn, or tended to the pets?

What about actually cooking? Or baking, sweeping, mopping, and vacuuming? Scrubbing walls? Oh, and cleaning windows and trimming plants and hedges?

Is your response “No way, I prefer to do it myself, that way it is properly done”? Yes, it may be easier, but no-one said raising and forming our children would be easy.

What’s better, seeing the chores done well while raising lazy children who know little about running a home and who will struggle in the real world not knowing what responsibility is about?

Or sweating a bit, raising them to cope well as adults, easily employable or better yet capable of managing their own business?

The education they gain at home from following instructions and the proper use and maintenance of tools, appliances and gadgets, cleaning products and the consequences of not doing so is immeasurable.

We are doing them a huge disservice when we do not raise children to do chores.

Is the next excuse “They don’t listen, I can’t get them to do anything”?

Thanks to the good ol’ ‘Becoming a Love and Logic Parent’, and ‘Positive Parenting Solutions’ programmes, just a few sentences can get them into action and ease our burden. Fill in the blank to suit your household.

“When chores are done, then, you can play with ____”. Or “You are welcome to do ____, when____ is done.”

“Would you rather _______(mow the lawn, wash dishes) or ________(rake the leaves, clear the draining board)?” is one of my favourites.

Giving them a choice meets their need for control. Most people do not like being told they have to do something. Demands and commands create resistance and rebelliousness. Offering choices reduces resistance and raises the chance of more cooperation.

I believe in paying children to do chores that I would normally hire someone to do as they learn value in their efforts.

The other chores are contributions to the family and running of the household. We are a team and we all want to enjoy a certain standard of tidiness and order.

Having children do chores is one of the ways we raise them to be responsible adults. Being seriously committed to a sport or musical instrument is another. Working at holiday jobs and apprenticing in a trade are also ideal.

The tedium of doing chores transfers to the tedium of doing homework.

My somewhat scatterbrained seven-year-old son settled down remarkably soon after we put him on the dog-feeding schedule. Each child had dog-feeding shift for a week. He joined his older siblings in the routine at age seven  and learned to cope with it.

Handling several big dogs at feeding time was not an easy task but he rose to the occasion. We were quite amazed when his teacher reported noticeable improvements in his academic performance in the months that followed.

The confidence and self-esteem that children gain from doing chores is also immeasurable. They feel so valued, knowing their efforts are important to the family. Feeling important is a major primary psychological need.

Note that children, like adults can be very sensitive to being corrected so when chores are not done well, they must respectfully and tactfully be shown how it is to be done next time or how it can be more thoroughly completed.

A child whose efforts are harshly criticised is likely to avoid or resist ever doing that chore again and their confidence can be shaken.

Many saints of years gone by have taught us to offer up our work as prayer but a favourite modern saint of mine, St Josemaría Escriva encourages us to not just offer up our work but to offer it up well done.

Isn’t that the icing on the cake to help us train our children? Teaching them that doing chores well is making Jesus happy and can be offered up for someone in need as we co redeem with Christ with our prayers and penances?

They can face their chores with purpose, contributing physically and spiritually and to their own character development and society.

What pride there is when we turn out responsible, confident teenagers that people are happy to employ.

Let’s do it! All hands on deck to clean and beautify the house and yard and turn out happier, responsible teens, willing to focus on academics in September.


Follow Sophie’s parenting approaches drawn from Love and Logic and Positive Discipline on, FB and Instagram. For personal coaching,