HomeHealth & BehaviorBehavior & Discipline

How to raise a team player

Seven fun activities that teach kids the value of pitching in and helping others.

By Rob Baedeker

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Chart a course

To get every family member’s buy-in for household teamwork, create a chore chart. Before making the chart, hold a family meeting and brainstorm about what needs to be done around the house. Kids will be more enthusiastic about doing their share if they're asked to contribute their ideas and opinions. Include parental "chores" too, so everyone can see how each person is pitching in. Ask questions like: "Who should earn the money to pay the rent?" "Who should put away toys?” “Who should pick up dirty clothes and put them in the hamper?”

On a sheet of paper — ideally one with horizontal and vertical lines to create squares — write the chores (for example, do the dishes, fold the laundry, feed the dog) vertically down the left side of the paper, and write the days of the week horizontally across the top of the page. Then fill in the family member’s name in the corresponding square. (You could also print out a pre-made chore chart, like this or this.) A tip: To help make housework more fun and less of a grind, change the chart every so often and do several chores as a family team — or create chore teams with competitions: The parents versus the kids.

Teamwork lesson: The discussion, chart, and chores serve as regular reminders that pitching in is simply part of life — at home, at school, and at work.  

Rob Baedeker is a writer living in Berkeley, Calif. He is the coauthor, with the Kasper Hauser comedy group, of SkyMaul: Weddings of the Times and Obama's BlackBerry.

Comments from readers

"These activities are the kind which are used in theater arts classrooms. This is another example of why arts education is valuable. It teaches behaviors that are not addressed in the more traditional classrooms. Parents, insist that your school keep the arts in the curriculum."