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Dear Dr. Cherrye,
I was visiting with my neighbor the other day and became shocked at how she feels about disciplining her children. She hasn’t right-out said it, but I believe she feels I’m too lenient. In her opinion, parents are failing their children if they do not use household chores and labor as a means to build their children’s character. I shared with my neighbor that I believe in discipline just as she does, but I never thought about using chores and labor as a way to build my children’s character. To me, Dr. Cherrye, this sounds a bit harsh.
~ My children are not slaves ~
Dear My children are not slaves,
I do not believe in using children as slaves. When I think of slaves, I’m reminded of cruelty and unjust treatment. No child should experience this at any time, but especially at the hands of their parents – the very people who should love and protect them. Enslaving is not love. Parents who choose this method of discipline needs a lesson in parenting.
I do believe, however, in children taking part in household chores in-keeping with age-appropriate duties. It’s nothing wrong with children helping out around the house. I believe that children should keep their bedrooms clean, tidy-up behind themselves in the bathroom, and pick-up after themselves around their home. For example, if your child removes a cup from the cupboard to pour a drink, once they’ve used the cup, it’s okay for them to wash, dry and place the cup back in its place. Ask yourself this: Would you want to continually go behind your children redoing things that were once in its proper place?
Your Friend’s Perspective
I’m not certain from what perspective your friend was coming, but perhaps she sees chores as teaching children good family sharing, caring for others, not taking advantage of other peoples time and hard work, and teaching children responsibility. Believe it or not, these are the types of habits that will build character in the types of children who most people will want to be around, and share their time with. Think about your children as young adults going off to college. Most kids will have roommates. Right? If so, what sort of roommate would your child make? Will his/her room look like a pig’s pen, or will it be neat and organized? Which picture would make you a proud mama?
Some parents ask their children to share in the dish washing, or taking out the trash. Others may assign any one of these duties to their children while others are sure to take and/or assign other duties. It all depends on the family make-up. For example, I have a friend who is a single mom. Her son’s household duty is the keep his room clean, clean up behind himself and take out the trash when the can is full. Personally, I think these are fair household duties. Some parents pay their children (allowance), while others believe the duties are a give and take ideology.
I’m not sure if you need or want other helpful ideas for how to effectively assist with building your child’s character, but I’ll add a few below.
Tips: How to Build Character
- When you listen to your children share their stories, they feel worthy
- Ensure your children take responsibility for their actions
- Role model how children should help others
- Allow your children to fail sometimes. They’ll see how to start over
- Teach and role model kindness/great manners
- Observe your children without always jumping in – Give them space
- Give your children age-appropriate challenges and watch them shine
- Walk your children through how to problem solve through decisions
- Encourage your child to get involved in sports, the arts, karate, or play a musical instrument
- Character Building: A Guide for Parents and Teachers
- What Do You Stand For? For Teens: A Guide to Building Character
- What Do You Stand For? Character Building Card Game
- Character-Building Activities: Teaching Responsibility, Interaction, and Group Dynamics
- Choices & Consequences. Lesson 4 (I Can Do All Things Character Building Collection)
- Character in a Jar®
- Creative Family Times: Practical Activities for Building Character
- Character Building: Self-Control Kid Workbook
- Making Grateful Kids: The Science of Building Character
I’ve made it my mission to assist parents in resolving the bullying issues their children are suffering. Offering your feedback and suggestions in the comment section could facilitate meaningful dialog on this critical issue among ourselves and I encourage this. I will respond to each comment in a timely way. Should you wish to speak privately with me, please email be at CherryeVasquez@gmail.com, and I will reply promptly.
Download My Free e-books
Use my free resources, Self-Identity Worksheet: Sharing My Goals & Positive Attributes and The Bully Band: Parents in Rhythm as tools to help you help your child with bullying, and to help build your child’s self-esteem.