"Clean up, clean up, everybody every where. Clean up, clean up, everybody do your share." We sing this in English in our house, because to the best of my knowledge there isn't a Spanish equivalent. Probably because from the time they learn to walk, it is expected that Latino children learn to help around the house and they don't need a little jingle to coerce them to pick up after themselves. That's probably why children in Central and South American tend to be more willing to help with chores around the house than their American and European counterparts.
We are in the interesting position because my husband is from Guatemala, so we are trying to raise our children more aligned to the Central-American tradition. We have two biological little ones, ages two and four, and we foster our niece, age 10. It might come as no surprise that the two little ones, who embrace their Guatemalan-American identity completely, enjoy helping out with the chores. Whereas with the older, more Americanized one, it's a constant battle. She sees chores as well, chores. The little ones see chores as an opportunity for connection and to spend time with us. We try to instill within them this collectivist culture ideal--that chores are a natural part of being a member of a household, and that everyone chips in.
But for our 10-year-old niece, we sometimes have to include a few added incentives.
We don't believe in allowance or a reward system for doing chores, because they are the responsibilities of everyone. Instead, we motive her with what she yearns to do--spend time on technology! The rule in our house is no free time until chores are done. Before school and after school, our 10-year-old is expected to make her bed/tidy her room, do dirty dishes and put clean dishes away, make sure the animals have food and water, and clean up and sweep under the kitchen table after each meal. She is also expected to do her own laundry, and her homework/school work, of course. Once all of those things are done, she has unlimited screen time. Because she wants to get to free time quickly, she gets her chores done. And if something is not done, she might lose screen time for the day.
Since we as the parents set the tone for our home, I make sure the kids never hear my complaining or frustration over having to complete household chores. I want them to know that although it might not be the most fun part of the day, it's an expected part of growing up, and if everyone pitches in and does their part, it's doable.
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