Children and chores

Tuesday, August 14, 2012


My 9 yr old and 10 year old were having a discussion at bathtime last night.
I did not know what it was about and then my 9 year old came into the kitchen and asked “Mum, is there another chore that we can do daily that can make us more money?”
I replied “you unpack the dishwasher already”
He said ‘yes, but it’s only 50c and I want a job that can make more money”. 
We offered him the chore of packing the dishwasher and wiping the benchtop.  Immediately, I could tell by the look on his face the cleaning of the kitchen was not going to be appealing.  Also, I considered whether (even with training) he would ever get the job done to the satisfaction of his dad, who does the chore at the moment. So we may offer him a job or two in the bathroom. 

How to choose chores and how to manage chores:

I don’t want to give my child a chore that I have to nag him about.  It is counterproductive, for us, if I have to ask 30 times for the chore to be done and then out of frustration or fatigue takeover and do the task for him.  The positive will be lost and there will probably be another fight to be had at the end of the week/month when he expects money for it and I have to say the job wasn’t done so no pay.

Some tips on giving chores:

The task needs to be age appropriate:  Children need to be able to complete the task in a relatively short time, 15 minutes at the most.  They need to be able to use the tools required for the task, asking a young child to use chemicals is probably not wise and if you’re going to worry about them breaking something precious don’t get them to unpack your dishwasher or dust your ornaments or vases. 

Can they do the task without you watching them:  Once they have been taught how to do the task you want them to do or they have got into the habit of doing the task, can it be done on their own and at a time that suits them?  Is there a time you need it done by?  

Can it be done as part of an already set up routine?  Ie. Tidy the bathroom after bathtime.

Is the chore enjoyable or more importantly rewarding:  Can children see what impact their chore will have? eg.  If the playroom is clean, it is a safe space.  If they help you with a task explain that it will give you some extra time to be able to spend with them. 

Set by example:  Do the children see you doing tasks? It can be tempting to do everything while they are at preschool but once in a while save a job that you can do together.

Do you feel like you are constantly nagging for a task to be done?  Perhaps the chore is too difficult for the child, perhaps the task is not appropriate for the child’s development.  Perhaps they don’t understand the importance of the job and perhaps it is not enjoyable.  

There is nothing worse than expecting a job to be done and nagging the kids to do it – take a step back and offer to help them to see if they will reengage with the task or offer them another chore in it’s place. 



Are we intolerant of our children, of childhood?

Thursday, June 7, 2012


It is with slight hesitation I post this post, and it is just a thought. I would like to hear other parents comments on, I don’t think there is an answer to fit everyone and what you do or don’t do is your personal free choice and you are entitled to it – so please don’t judge this blog post but let me know what your experiences are because here is my experience.

There are very good reasons that parents put their children onto medications and there are some parents who choose not to? So here are my reasons for not doing it, because I consider my child ‘normal’ with some outstanding traits that as an adult I wouldn’t think twice about – well actually quite the opposite, I think alot about!

Adults with similar characteristic behaviours, (seen in some children) are looked at in awe! Observed with wonder of their superhuman abilities to bounce back, be resilient, to do what they choose, be adventurous with little thought about what will happen next, but we don’t force them to take drugs to calm them down and make them more law abiding or less adventurous?

See we look at some adults, perhaps even friends of ours and think - How cool, wow they have so much energy, how do they get so much done. Wish I had their brain for two minutes, they always have ideas, they’re always busy. They’re disorganized, they’re always running late but hey they’re fun! They’re so positive, they’re really encouraging and supportive. They’re always up for a night out or a trip away. They’re so popular, she’s fun to be with, she’s loud, she’s funny, she’s entertaining, she’s a bit out there but who cares she’s doing the best she can!

But these traits in our children we don’t want to accept? We want them to be like everybody else (because everybody else is so good, they fit in at school, they’re getting good grades, they listen when spoken to or obeys without arguing, they’re accepted and liked by their peers).

Are children being discriminated against? Is the fear of being judged as a parent influencing how we treat our children?

The only thing that belongs in a box is toys!

Friday, June 1, 2012

In our attempts to diagnose or treat or find answers sometimes we lose our capacity to individualise!
I get tired of hearing others say - “oh I know that,?” “you can do this” or “try this” or  worse be compared to so and so who had this and be told about something that happened to so and so who had that.

The list is endless, food allergies, child behaviour diagnosis – LABELLING- all contribute to normalising and belonging, to fitting in and hopefully finding support but it can also be detrimental if you don’t take a step back and say this is ‘MY CHILD’- a unique, special, beautiful individual with ‘such and such’ but NOT LIKE ANYONE ELSE – who knows what will happen when you start to look to your child for the answers and not the so and so’s.

I am always reminded of this by a close friend whose child was diagnosed with something  - that I won’t write the name of here but all the research and stats and information on it is terrible and the prognosis is not good - if you read so and so’s stories.   However, my friend’s response was admirable!  She saw through and past the label, through what may or may not be to see HER CHILD and her child is her treasure and is not defined by their diagnosis.  Her child is accepted as they are and the illness is not ignored or denied but most importantly the child is embraced, sheltered and given every opportunity to develop, grow and reach their full potential.

We do this with almost anything nowadays, we want to be ‘normal’, be accepted, be helped, be helpful!  
So here is a guide:

The only thing that belongs in a box is toys, so don’t box my child into a category or a definition or worse what you know about ‘it’.

If you do think you know about ‘it’ - ask me some more questions just to make sure that we’re on the same page and you have MY WHOLE story first. 

If you really do know something positive about ‘it’ or think you can help without comparing or sharing so and so’s story then I welcome it! I don’t want to hear the bad stuff , that website or the last 10 websites I did my research on gave me the negatives already!

If you can’t think of something nice or positive just a sigh, or “mmm” or “I’m thinking of you”, will do.


Has 'labelling' helped you?  Have you ever had unhelpful advice or perhaps you've have unsolicited advice that has unexpectedly helped you?  Your comments, thoughts are welcome below.

Birthday Cake

Friday, May 25, 2012



 made this cake for my son's 3rd birthday - inspired by .... can you guess? .... Croc Hunter! and my son's favourite toy at that time a 40cm plastic crocodile. It was worth every minute and every detail. 

To my child...

Monday, May 21, 2012

I love you when you smile,


I love you when you laugh,

I love you when you are sleeping,

I love you when you’re awake,

I love you when you are playing,

I love you when you’re at school,

I love you when you’re with your friends,



I love you when you’re tired and when you’re a little cranky or just having a bad day.

When you’re sick or bullied or feeling misunderstood, I love you even more!

Follow up

Friday, April 27, 2012

I’ve been putting off writing the follow up to my previous post - mainly because I wanted to be sure that the change has been permanent.

So here is how my son is tracking with his behaviour since we had our little ‘heart to heart’ chat and role play session – if you need a reminder read the previous post.
The first day after our chat was great! His teacher was surprised with the change and said to me “I don’t know what you said to him but it really worked”. The next two days posed a little challenge since his regular teachers (both of them) were away (not good timing especially when trying to institute changes to behaviour!). He did play up a little with the teachers who were standing in but each of the afternoons, I reminded him that he needs to be good and say ‘no’ if someone wants him to do something he knows is not right or not allowed.

Fortunately, the regular teachers were back the next week and every morning when I dropped him off I asked him ‘What’s the magic word?” and he replied “No”. I would walk in holding my breath every afternoon and hadn’t had any feedback from his teachers, good or bad! I figured they would say if it was worse than before, so I just asked him ‘Have you been in trouble today” and he replied “No”. Finally, yesterday I got to ask his teacher and she said “He’s been wonderful and is listening very well”. So that’s almost two weeks of change and a good sign it will continue!
I have praised him on the days he has told me he behaved well and explained how proud I am of him. The other day I told him, "tell your dad what did I feel today because you behaved so well" (thinking he’d say ‘proud’) and he said, ‘you’re impressed’. Well that’s kinda the same isn’t it?

Have you been proud of your child lately? Have they put some effort into something and succeeded?

Something happened at preschool....

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Yesterday I got called aside by my son’s preschool teacher. My son had been playing up a bit at preschool and now the teacher’s thought it was time to let me know.

“How has he been at home they asked? Notice any changes in his behaviour at home?”

“No", I replied.

“Well, he’s been acting up today, playing a little rough and being a little disruptive on the mat?”

“Is it any time in particular?” I asked “No, it’s random!”

They apologise for having to tell me the ‘bad news’ but in some respects it’s only been going on a few days so in my mind there is an opportunity for change and I will find a way.

I take him home and have a good chat about making the teacher happy because “if you don’t do what the teacher wants it makes her job hard and she may get cranky”. I watch his face while I tell him and he starts to get really quiet and pensive. I drop the subject and later at bathtime, he says “but they (the kids) call me all the time, come and play, come and play – he said it over and over again and quite loud and a little angrily”. He doesn’t know it but I hear through his anger that it is difficult for him. He wants to join in and be part of the group but it leads to trouble and his teacher pulling her angry face which he also told me he doesn’t like to see.  So, I explain she won’t pull that face if he is good or walks away when other kids are playing rough.

I did not have this with my other two sons, they have always stood their ground and felt comfortable doing so, where my youngest is a follower.

I held him close and reassured him that it is okay to play with the other boys until they want to do something that is not good, then walk away. His older brother comes in later to the room where my son is getting changed and says– “hey M hit my bottom and I will run away” (suddenly I see an example of what could be happening at preschool). Of course he does hit him - right away, without a second thought. I immediately point out that is an example of what not to do – “M when someone says do this and you don’t want to or you know it is bad say “no” so we practiced loud 'no’s' and role played with his brother some scenarios – the second time he said 'no' and the third time he was just about to hit his brother when he stopped himself and said 'no' instead. A breakthrough!A few more practices and lots of high fives and I feel a little more reassured that he has learnt a new skill.

I dropped him off at preschool today and as I hugged him goodbye I asked “what’s the magic word and he whispered “No”. that’s my son and I’m proud of him! Stay tuned for an update and if you would like role play ideas email me eleanor@parentwithpotential.com

They say a picture is worth a thousand words ....

Friday, March 16, 2012

Nothing left to say really. That's four thousand words just there:)

I was reflecting on "pre and post" motherhood today and remembering what it was like to have a baby at home. 

What is your reality?


Is there a solution to this problem?

Monday, March 12, 2012

If there is anything I cannot tolerate it’s bullying in any form, taunting, physical or emotional. It is just not okay to do, to anyone.  My boys know my stand on this is. Based on my previous experience of being bullied at school, I can understand, empathise and speak first hand about what it is like on the other side, being a victim of bullies but there is a third side too.
My 10yo mentioned casually at dinner table how some kids, a small group of 4 or 5 were taunting and throwing their lunch and 1child in the group spitting his lunch at another Year 5 boy at school.

I was horrified and he went on to say that it was because on a school camp this boy needed the toilet and ‘pooed in his pants’ - a moment which some kids would have found funny at the time –has now, because of a minority, become a definining moment in this child’s life – at least for the remaining two years of his primary school.

Thankfully, we have the opportunity to perhaps shed new light on the ‘event’ and explained to our son that the boy may have had diarrhea and may have been sick.

I did ask my son if he had ever done anything like the other boys are doing, teasing or bullying the boy. He replied, “no, of course not”.

We asked him, ‘Have you ever done anything about it, have you told someone, a teacher maybe?” He replied, “The teacher isn’t there to see it, so I would probably get blamed”. We continued to brainstorm and asked ‘Have you ever told them (the bullies) to stop?”

“No, I can’t do that, then they’ll tease me and say you like the boy who poos in his pants”.



So this is the dilemma, how do we empower kids to stop bullies. We hear alot about the bully and victim but there are so many who know it’s wrong, who see it happening, who have compassion and then are unable to do something about it – practically. My son a popular, friendly boy has realised that standing up sometimes has consequences and I was lost for words, with no ‘win-win’ solution in sight at that moment.
I was reminded though, by my son’s honesty, about an incident that happened to me. Years after I had left school, I had caught up with someone from school – we weren’t friends in school but later got closer and she said to me oneday, “I used to feel so bad, the kids were so cruel to you”. At least her honesty helped me see that it (the bullying) was bad, that acknowledgement that it was abnormal and most importantly someone noticed.


Here is my question:

What would you tell your child to do in this instance? Is there a 'win-win'? Should children be expected to stand up for someone?

Unpacking - Stress!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

The start of a new school year and children may be thinking about starting a new school year, who their teachers will be, who their new classmates will be and if you are like me and are moving house – it’s ‘stress city’.

 
My sons have totally different ways of expressing and dealing with stress ( well we’ll get to the dealing with later) for now it is watching how each is expressing their ‘stress’ and being aware that children also experience stress.

 
Take for example moving house: At the moment it is stressful for us, as a parent we are managing the very practical aspects, which involves the managing of documents and paperwork and organising and remembering to pay bills, finalise packing and finally deal with the move. I haven’t really had time to explore the fact that I will be leaving neighbours who are now close friends. I, however, understand that moving only two blocks away will mean I still see the mums and can easily organise catch ups.

 
My boys (8 and 10) are however feeling the more emotional side of the move. They feel the ‘finality’ of moving away from the cul-de-sac to a new street, only 100 metres from their current friends but they do realise it’s not going to be as easy seeing them as now. They are asking questions about why we have to move, they are coming up with plans about what we could have done instead of moving and coming up with creative (okay some wierd) ideas about how they wish to stay in contact with their friends, like making a remote control helicopter or a remote camera or buying their friends an ipod touch - I don’t put their ideas down! It’s all a critical part of them being able to accept the situation eventually.

 
So here is what stress looks like for my children:

 
My very social, outgoing son displays stress by crying, lashing out and is very verbal about not wanting to move. We hear about it every time we go to the new house, “I want to stay at my old house, I don’t want to move, I’m going to miss my friends”

 
My 8 year old has said nothing, actually at times he may have said something positive about his new room but yesterday I noticed he got really quiet in the car, all he said was “I still don’t understand why we have to move?” I realised in his own way – his more quiet and easy going way – he is still feeling stressed about it. It takes a little longer to get his thoughts out verbally than with his brother and it’s easy to overlook that as a parent or just to think oh, he’s okay because he isn’t complaining about it.

 

 
So what are some of the general stress signals:
  • Clinginess
  • Sleep disturbances or bed wetting, perhaps even some trouble getting to sleep
  • Physical pain, perhaps complain of an upset stomach, headaches, unexplained or frequent ‘allergy’ attacks
  • Restlessness
  • Apathy
  • Worrying
  • Impaired judgement
  • Negativity
  • Obsessive or compulsive behaviour
  • Overreactions to little annoying things
  • Loss of confidence
  • Sighing or breathing difficulties
  • Withdrawing or isolation
  • Regressive behaviour

Stress can cause a range of emotional, behavioural or physical reactions and being aware that just because a child doesn’t talk about it, doesn’t mean they don’t feel it. 
What’s the most stressful situation you have been through, what stress reactions did you or your child experience?

 

 
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