Resources for Mums and Dads

1.    Chore rotation works well when there's a similarity in skill and independence level among the kids in the household, and there's a variety of household tasks to be done (some more unpleasant than others). Rotating chores means that sometimes you get off easy with folding laundry, and sometimes you're mucking around in toilets, but everybody has an equal chance for easy and hard jobs. The advantage is that, because you're changing jobs all the time, nobody gets bored, and nobody gets stuck forever with the “yucky” stuff.
2.    Chore ownership is a system where each person has responsibility for a certain chore, or chores. “Danny cleans the birdcages and Cindy wipes down the counters before bed.” The advantages to chore ownership are that, should there be a breakdown and something doesn't get done, you don't have to go searching for a schedule, kids can gain a sense of pride in “their” jobs, and that pride will reflect in the quality of their work. Also, lots of experience in one area leads to increased skill. Downside? A bathroom that doesn't ever quite get clean and boredom. If you decide to assign permanent or semi permanent tasks, make sure you're being equitable (even if it isn't equal) and involve the kids in the decision about who does what jobs. They'll have preferences, try to accommodate them.
3.    The big combo factor. I believe the secret to making chores work for your family can be found in one word: options. If you assign certain chores (such as cleaning bedrooms and, say, taking out the trash) as “owned” chores, and rotate others (say, the bathroom and mopping floors, 'cause nobody loves doing it all the time), then your child will feel better about the chore system. Use family meetings as times to set up rotating chore charts, and allow your kids to choose from a variety of options.
It's a Good Idea!
Most household chores (unless they involve toxins or sharp edges) can be done by a small child with adult support. As time goes by, the child can “grow into” them.
You can also provide “trade-in” chores. Say Paula is scheduled to clean out the refrigerator, but she just can't stand the idea. She can trade in her refrigerator chore for the chore of washing the car, or cleaning the attic. (See the sample chore chart, below.) Kids also sometimes like to trade chores. Develop a policy that trading chores should happen at family meetings, or with the agreement of a parent, to ensure that the trading is fair, and nobody gets the shaft.
During the preschool period, one of the ways parents can support the development of their child's thinking is to point out the features of objects that a child might not spontaneously attend to. And although children ages three and four are usually quite capable of following a sequence of simple steps toward a goal, they can find it much harder to hold the bigger picture in mind and keep that end goal in sight. Reminding them of what they are trying to achieve and refreshing their memory about rules or principles that govern the task can be really useful. Having said this, several researchers believe that between the ages of three and five, most children become able to start reflecting on their experience and are therefore ready to start developing key skills such as predicting, checking results, self-monitoring, and reality testing.
To develop your own child's thinking skills following pointers may be helpful:
  1. Do tasks that enable you to think together with your child. Make sure you are thinking out loud: "What do we need to do next?" "Is what we're doing now similar to any other problem we have solved in the past?" "Let's pause and consider how we're doing for a moment." "What are we trying to do here?" "Can we do anything to help us make better progress?"
  2. Always start by helping your child recap what she already knows about a subject or problem so that she can make relevant links and connections and give the task a context. Mind maps are great for this.
  3. Help your child formulate a plan that will enable him to reach the end goal in a series of productive steps. How will he tackle the task at hand? What obstacles might he encounter? How will he deal with them?
  4. Foster the four key metacognitive skills: anticipate, check, monitor, and evaluate.
  5. Help your child see why mastering a particular problem or skill is relevant to her life and how what she is learning ties in with what she already knows.
  6. Always encourage your child to evaluate his own performance. What was hard about the task? What helped? What has he learned about approaching similar tasks in future?
  7. As a general rule, ask questions to support or provoke your child's thinking instead of issuing directions or providing easy answers. Olympic medallist and coach David Hemery observes, "If our questions generate more of their awareness and self responsibility, the likely result is an increase in our young people's self-belief."
  8. Encourage your child to talk to herself as she tackles a task so that she becomes more aware of her own thought processes.
  9. Be careful not to prompt excessively. Children learn best when they can figure something out for themselves. If you are too quick with a helpful question or reminder, they will become reliant on you to do the thinking for them.
  10. Persuade your child not to rush. Self-awareness, monitoring, and in-depth reflection cannot happen if your child is always in a hurry to get to the end. He is also much more likely to make careless mistakes. Model good habits and demonstrate that sometimes it is important to take your time if you really want to understand something properly.
  11. Finally, always help your child to identify and explicitly label any principles, strategies, or rules that are aiding her performance during the task. This enables your child to build up a repertoire of problem-solving skills. Foster the mindset of French mathematician and philosopher René Descartes, who remarked, "Each problem that I solved became a rule which served afterward to solve other problems." Children often deduce and apply principles without being conscious that they are doing so, making them less likely to be able to use them in other situations.

By fostering creativity in your child, you can help her mature mentally, emotionally, and socially. As a child grows, her imagination is tamed by society's constricting rules, pressures, and do's and don'ts. Creative freedom is essential in helping children develop social skills, decision making skills, confidence, and independence. The following suggestions will encourage self-expression, self-reliance, and spontaneity, to help ensure that your child's creativity and imagination flourish.

A. Encourage Intuition and Spontaneity
When you encourage your child to rely on his intuition and spontaneity, his creativity can grow. Not everything has to be planned; encourage your child to act on his creative thoughts and actions spontaneously. If he feels like a superhero one minute, run around and save stuffed animals from burning buildings with him. If he is sad or scared about something, encourage him to draw or color to express his feelings at that moment.

B. Inspire Self-Reliance
Teach children to rely on themselves, and to be confident about their ideas. Don't let others influence their decision making. Encourage children to stand up for what they think, feel, and believe. For example, if your child's friend tells her that she shouldn't color the sun purple; encourage your child to defend her choice of color.

C. Remove the Pressure of Performing
Your child's creativity isn't about performing for parents, teachers, or friends. It isn't about who came in first or last; who is better or worse. A child should be free in his creative thinking. By removing pressure to perform, you allow creativity to flow in every direction. Your child shouldn't feel the need to always excel; he should feel at ease to express, create, and imagine.

D. Experiment
Experiment with your child to see where and how she expresses her creativity. Is she constantly doodling on scraps of paper? Is she always dancing around the house? Does she dress up in your clothes? Is she always putting on plays? See what activities foster your child's creativity and then build off of them. Introduce her to other outlets and see how she takes to them.

E. Offer Creative Adventures
It's up to you, the parent, to make creative adventures happen. Be sure to offer many opportunities for imaginative adventures and fun, family activities that allow your child to daydream, create, and explore. Nature walks offer a great environment to transform into Tarzan, Bigfoot, or a forest animal; rainy days are perfect for an indoor fort building contest. Take advantage of different situations to spark creativity and a sense of adventure in your child.

F. Build Confidence
Building confidence is not only important for instilling creativity in your child; it is important for all aspects of her life. Be aware of your child's talents and interests, and always encourage her in everything she does. Provide your child with unlimited support while being her biggest fan.

G. Encourage Self-Expression
Encourage your child to express himself. This can be done through the arts, clothing, storytelling, and imaginative play. Be sure to encourage and support your child when he shows interest in something that expresses his thoughts, feelings, or personality.

H . Respect Your Child's Needs
Value and encourage your child's imagination by giving her the resources for creative growth. These could include a box of crayons and paper, art supplies, classes, imaginative play with parents, play dates with other children, and even story time.

I.  Develop Creativity Through the Arts
Encourage your child's creativity by allowing her to explore her interests further. Help expand her enthusiasm by enrolling her in art, music, theater, and dance classes and after-school clubs, or host gatherings with friends who have similar interests.

J. Introduce Creative Role Models
Does Grandma like to paint? Does Uncle Jim play the guitar? Encourage your child to spend time with creative role models who can teach, inspire, and guide her. In the process, you may also create unbreakable family bonds and memories to last a lifetime.


You can use these everyday phrases to instill confidence, self-respect, and thoughtfulness in your children.
1.    Thank you. It's important to acknowledge your child's efforts to help you or others. You might say: "Thanks for helping me look for that missing sock" or "Thanks for setting the table; I got the salad made while you were doing that."

2.    Tell me more. Words like these show your child that you are listening and that you would like to hear more about what's on her mind. "Tell me more" encourages conversation without passing judgment or giving immediate advice – two responses that discourage further communication from your child.

3.    You can do it. Your expression of confidence in your child's ability to do many things without your help is important. As your child grows older, there will be many times when your encouragement will mean the difference between his giving up on a challenging task or seeing it through.

4.    How can I help? Let your child know you are willing and available to help her accomplish a particular task that may be difficult for her to manage on her own. You might say: "I think you can read that story by yourself now. Let me know if you need help with a new word." As your child takes on projects in school, encourage her to think of specific steps that are necessary to complete a project. You both can decide which tasks your child can handle on her own and which ones she'll need help with.

5.    Let's all pitch in. A child is never too young to learn that cooperation and team effort make many jobs easier and speedier – and often more fun: "Let's all pitch in and finish raking the leaves so we can go in and bake cookies," or "Let's all pitch in and clean up the kitchen or we'll miss the movie." Family activities and group chores can develop into pleasant rituals that enrich a child's life and create fond memories.

6.    How about a hug? Don't just tell your child you love him – show him. Research indicates that young children deprived of physical touch and displays of affection often fail to thrive. As children grow older, they vary in the ways they like us to show affection. Some love to be cuddled, while others prefer a quick hug or pat on the shoulder. It's important to be aware of what your child enjoys most at a particular age.

7.    Please. After all these years, "please" is still a classic. When you ask a favor of anyone – including children – this "magic word" acknowledges that you are asking for a behaviour that will help you and/or make you happy. (P.S.: Don't forget to say "thank you" when the job is done.)

8.    Good job! Good for you. Self-respect and self-confidence grow when your child's efforts and performance are rewarded. Whenever possible, give your child lots of praise. Be sure your praise is honest and specific. Focus on your child's efforts and progress, and help her identify her strengths.

9.    It's time to... "It's time to get ready for bed," or "do homework," or "turn off the TV." Young children need structure in their daily lives to provide a measure of security in an often insecure world. It is up to you as a parent to establish and maintain a workable schedule of activities, always remembering that children benefit from regular mealtimes and bedtimes.

10. I love you. Everyone needs love and affection and a feeling of acceptance and belonging. We can't assume that children know and understand our love for them unless we tell them. Letting your child know that you love him (and showing him with countless hugs) is important not only in toddlerhood, but also as he gets older.


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