Kids doing chores – when should parents step back?

When children are young we are keen to help them develop their independence. We celebrate each milestone with pictures and journals. Once they get older we can fall into a pattern of running around after our kids when really there are many things they can do for themselves.

There has been an interesting generational change on the social expectations of our children. High profile cases in the 90s, increased car use and the rise of social media has led to many parents being fearful of the world out there. And yet as children they were probably out and about at an earlier age than their children are now.

For parents there is something great about being needed by your children. By them still relying on you – and it may be a much quicker way of getting them out of the door when you are in a rush in a morning! But don’t forget to reflect every now and then. What CAN your children do?

Children form comfortable habits as much as adults and they Will find it easier for you to run around for them than do it themselves. But we do know that successful and resilient adults are those who haven’t had everything done for them. Who have learnt to contribute to their family. Who look for what needs to be done and takes on their share of the responsibility. That is why chores at home do not need to be paid for. They are something that every member of a family needs to do. They are a contribution.

By celebrating their independence at each stage and giving them the space to do chores (and the expectation from you -very few choose chores!) you are helping them with a ‘can do’ attitude. You are teaching them skills for their adult lives and a positive work ethic. By spending time around the family doing chores and having conversations you are providing protective factors for the world out there, either online or in reality!

To look further at the research on how chores help the development of independence skills join us at the Modern Parenting Must Haves seminar in September. Contact for more information and to book.

Sound Families. 5 ways to achieve a ‘sound family’

What is a ‘sound family’? No not the phonics groups! But families that are doing ok. They are ‘sound’. So often we aim to have the perfect family, or the healthy family or the outdoorsy family and if we are lucky all the members of the family are into this. But what if they’re not? We can perceive ourselves to be failing. This can lead to our own anxieties as well as tension with the kids. So what can we do?

1. Accept that it is ok for everyone to have their own interests and some space to do them (even the parents). Our interests are what help us to relax and enjoy ourselves and are important for switching off in busy lives.

2. Allow time to switch off and do nothing. Kids have very busy days at school and often don’t respond well to questions about their day as soon as they get in. Notice what they want to do when they come in, sit and chill or have a snack. Give them some space before lots of questions.

3. As a family have good mobile phone/tablet habits. Phones and devices should not be in bedrooms. They should be charging downstairs. Computers and laptops should be used downstairs as well. The internet and social media are isolating. To have your children used to sharing these with you and talking about things in a non judgemental way will help them to come to you if there is an issue. Make sure the adults also model time away from their phones!

4. Encourage your kids to meet with other kids! Getting out of the house, walking to the shops and shopping with friends are all positive activities. Learning to negotiate on the playground and to listen to your instincts about who you do and don’t like are important skills. If they are always in the presence of adults they don’t develop these as readily – they just rely on the adults.

5. Be in the presence of each other. Spending time as a family, whether it is all together or a girly day out or trip to the footie. Learn to play their favourite game on the console. Sometimes it is in these quieter times, no agenda, no questions that you can have the best conversations.

Happiness at all times of the day and night is not an achievable aim for a family. Being content to be with each other, to have time together and apart can help build close bonds and a ‘sound family’.

Join me for seminars and talks on rising confident children and Modern Parenting Must Haves. Aimed at parents of school age children at which time lots of support falls away. Parents go back to work and there is limited advice for parents (other than individual opinions). All talks are research based and provide enough information for parents to adapt to what works for them as a family.

If you are interested in a  talk for your parent group, business or school please contact

For more information from America on the impact of smart phones and social media you might want to look at the link below.



Working with the cry of ‘I’m bored!’

For school age children to be truly creative they need to have the space to be bored and then to figure out what they can do to stop themselves being bored. The summer is a great time to practice this as there are less urgent demands of needing to leave the house at a certain time, structured activities and clubs etc.

For children that cannot read you could put picture cards in a room with some ideas of what they could do, particularly if they are unused to this, or a written list for older children. Once you have checked that the room is ok for them to play, you can leave and find some thing else to do. If you are in the room they are likely to default to asking you or relying on you to solve problems for them.

Some children will immediately be drawn to the outside, others to crafts or games. This is a time when they can experiment with activities that they enjoy and make them their own. Or they may find some of those toys that have been gathering dust in their bedrooms and play with those again (always put play with your toys in your room on the list!)

There is a flip side to the time out of the room for you! When you return you have to be very interested in what they have created. Listen well to the rules of game that may be impossible to understand or love the smell of the ‘rose perfume’. You can comment on how well they have played on their and how they have managed to occupy themselves.

You will notice that watching tv and playing on a tablet/computer have not yet been mentioned… these can be on the list but only if you know that they are being inspired or creative with them. Like coding their own game, creating animations or singing along with the Horrible Histories crew! These can be on the list.

For older children getting outside and playing with other children (if there are some around) is also great to do. Children need periods of unsupervised social activity to develop their social muscles. To learn to negotiate and compromise. Modern technology such as phones and watches can make it easier for parents to be in contact with their kids without needing to be right next to them. Send them on errands to get something from the shop or help out a neighbour.

All of these help to build emotional resilience and a sense of responsibility in children. This alternated with times in the day where you really get down and play (no phones or tv) with the kids and laugh and have fun with them will help them retain emotional balance. So enjoy some time to yourselves (or build up to it!) and enjoy time to play. Have a lovely summer!

If you would like to hear more about building emotional resilience in kids come along to Modern Parenting Must Haves seminar in Harrogate on the 16th September 9.30-12. Contact tracy@enrichingparenting for more information and to book.