Family coach says changing kids’ attitudes around chores is key

Summer is fast approaching, and kids will be spending a lot more time at home. The end of the school year is a great time to have a conversation with kids about the work that goes into keeping homes flowing, family coach Lori Sugarman-Li told WTOP.

“Having them around gives us the opportunity to finally shine a light on the scope of it,” Sugarman-Li said.

She insisted chores don’t have to be a burden or a “downer.” To that end, parents can explain the “why” behind the work, like why it’s important to change sheets or keep a car clean. Sugarman-Li says parents can also convey to their kids how doing chores is really gratitude in action.

“The work that we do around the home and caring for our family, at its heart is the work of gratitude for all that we have,” she said.

Sugarman-Li, who is also the author of the children’s book, “Our Home: The Love, Work, and Heart of Family”, suggests parents assign chores that fit the passions and personalities of their children.

“If you have a great organizer, invite that child into the kitchen to unload the groceries and maybe organize the pantry,” she said. “If you have a child who is really motivated by music, offer them a task where they can have their headphones on. If you have a child who you think would thrive more in a partnership with you, where they could really learn beside or with you, then I love the idea of laundry or yard work as an opportunity for partnership in that way.”

Sugarman-Li said that while offering an incentive like money to get kids to do their chores may be helpful in teaching them financial literacy, in the long term, changing their attitudes around chores is best.

“The reality is that when they leave the nest and become independent and someday when they become hopefully solid partners, we have to recognize this work isn’t paid,” she explained.

She said kids as young as 3 can start helping around the house — and parents should of course choose activities that are safe and age appropriate.

One idea for smaller kids is to help parents sort laundry, Sugarman-Li said. Older kids can help in the kitchen, with unloading dishes or with assisting a parent in prepping dinner.

“It’s all about understanding your own child, knowing how they thrive, knowing what your comfort level is in various situations,” she said. “And then trying it out and seeing if they if they enjoy it.”

And if they don’t, Sugarman-Li suggests choosing something else.

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Shayna Estulin

Shayna Estulin joined WTOP in 2021 as an anchor/reporter covering breaking news in the D.C. region. She has loved radio since she was a child and is thrilled to now be part of Washington’s top radio news station.

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