Each of my girls has a set of assigned chores they do daily and weekly. An attitude of ownership sometimes surrounds these chores, not by the person assigned to do them, but by the other girls. For instance, if the floor needs to be swept, a child who is not responsible for sweeping will call for the child who “owns” the sweeping to come sweep. An argument quickly ensues over who is the busiest and who is ultimately responsible for sweeping. Such arguments quickly annoy me, thus I am quick to find a remedy.
My fix can take one of the following forms, depending on my mood at the time:
First, I make them both perform the task as a team. One sweeps while the other holds the dust pan. One spritzes the floor while the other mops. This forces them to operate as a team. This is usually their least favorite solution, so I relish using it the most.
Second, the one doing the bossing gets to do the job. This may not always work, as in the case of sweeping. My six-year-old, for instance, cannot sweep to my specifications, so while she wins the task initially, myself or one of the older girls usually has to finish the job.
Third, I let them duke it out. This is my least favorite alternative because it’s usually a rather loud solution and one that doesn’t resolve the attitude.
In all three scenarios, I talk to everyone about developing a helpful attitude. If you can complete the task, why not bless your sister by doing it for her? If one is struggling with her chores, why not ask how you may help or just start helping without asking. The ultimate goal with this is to not only develop a helpful heart but also, “gasp!”, to create a sensitivity toward noticing when work needs to be done. No shuffling through piles of clothes or shoveling towels to the side to take a bath. No yelling for someone else to come do something you can do yourself.
“How may I help”? It’s our motto.