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Don't Rely On Helpers, Make Things Easy To Reach: Rica Peralejo's Tips For Teaching Kids Chores
PHOTO BY INSTAGRAM /RICAPERALEJO
  • It’s school break and, for most parents, this means keeping kids busy and active in a meaningful way. Sure, summer workshops abound online and face-to-face, but you will also want to take advantage of the long break to teach them some life skills at home. 

    For Episode 6 of Poprica, Smart Parenting’s Editor-At-Large Rica Peralejo-Bonifacio shares the different ways parents can teach their children independence and responsibility through simple house chores. “Kung hindi mo feel or wala kang budget [for a workshop] ngayong summer break, I really highly suggest making your kids do household chores,” says Rica.

    Rica admits that she was very reliant on helpers growing up. As a consequence, she never picked up important domestic skills like cooking or cleaning until she had her own kids. This is something she never wants her kids to experience so she made sure that, early on, they learn to help around the house by giving them tasks appropriate for their age.

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    Starting with her eldest, Philip, she realized the importance of adjusting to her kid’s ability to do a chore and, of course, observing patience in the process. She says parents should expect children to be slower when asking them to, say, put their toys back in the storage after playing or asking them to put their plates in the sink. 

    “It takes Philip a lot of time to actually finish [a task]. Mas mabagal ang bata because they're smaller, they’re really not used to doing those things yet, and their fine motor skills are not fully developed yet.” 

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    Invited guests on her vlog also shared how they approached asking their kids to help around the house. Mommy Sarah May Tanhuanco-Tan says she takes advantage of her three-year-old’s curiosity and willingness to help. “Whenever I set the table, I always describe how it’s done to my daughter Sophia then I would ask her if she wants to help me,” she says. 

    “It’s not all the time na natatapos ang chores. If she's interested then we keep going, if not, we'll try again the next day,” she adds.

    READ MORE STORIES ON CHORES:

    Daddy Alfie Tulagan says his approach is to explain to his boys why they are doing a certain chore. “Pag time to sleep na inaayos nila yung mga books. I teach them chores so that they can grow up to be responsible and self-reliant,” he shares. 

    So how can you get your kids to help in household chores over the break and teach them the lifelong values of independence, self-reliance, responsibility, and dependability? Here, Rica gives some tips that has personally worked for her boys, Philip and Manu.

    1. Teach them that there are consequences.

    When a child refuses to do a chore, he should learn that there are consequences but that it shouldn’t equate to punishment. Rica says that teaching what the consequences are should always be connected to the chore that the child failed to do. 

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    If, say, a child fails to place his plate on the sink after eating, the consequence should not be to deprive him of TV time. “Ano naman ang connection ng TV time sa kinainan mo ‘di ba?” she argues.

    In teaching consequence, she points out that if the plate is not placed in the sink and goes unwashed, they might have to eat in a dirty plate and no one want to do that. “It teaches them na kung hindi ko lilinisin ang sarili kong pinagkainan, ako din ang magsu-suffer,” she says.

    2. Don’t teach them to depend on helpers.

    Having helpers around all the time is not very encouraging says Rica and she knows whereof she speaks. “When I was growing up, [I didn’t get to learn] life skills or practical skills kasi lagi nga akong merong inaasahan, so ayokong mangyari yon sa mga anak ko,” she reflects.

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    Because of this experience, she makes sure that her helper is just there for the purpose of helping her in other chores and not pick up after her kids. “Yung aking helper ay taga-tulong lang talaga siya–magluto ng pagkain or maglinis. Lahat pa rin naman ginagawa niya pero di kami naka asa sa kanya for things that we could do on our own,” she explains.

    She also says she made sure to just have one helper. “Mas nafi-feel namin yung responsibility namin when there are less hands to help us,” she adds.

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    3. Make things reachable for your kids.

    “Can you imagine if you are a small child and everything is beyond your reach?” says Rica. When things are reachable, kids will learn not to depend too much on adults.

    But apart from the practicality of it, it also empowers them because it assures them that they can do things on their own.

    RELATED: Mom Diligently Finds Kiddie-Sized Tools to Teach Her Toddler Responsibility

    4. For parents, practice patience.

    “Wag natin silang madaliin na gawin ang mga chores ng tama, mabuti, o pulido,” advises Rica.  Be considerate of their age since not all will have developed their fine motor skills yet.

    “Correcting them [before they are physically ready for the task] can result in discouragement rather than encouragement,” she says, adding that it’s important to leave some room for mistakes because that’s the time children actually become more willing to do the things you ask them to do. 

    Lastly, don’t forget to appreciate the efforts of our kids. A pat on the back, a kiss, or a hug after a chore can go a long way in reinforcing your children’s actions. 

    Watch the Poprica episode here:

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