What can a teenager do exceptionally well?

Young people have to help with housework

Small children still like to help with housework. It looks different with young people. What many do not know: Children and young people are legally obliged to help out in the household. Educational counselors give tips on how parents can get their children to tackle things and what tasks are reasonable.

"Child labor is forbidden!", The 14-year-old Roman grins cheekily into his mother's face when she asks him to clear the table. But that doesn't get him very far, because Andrea knows the law. The Youth Labor Protection Act forbids child labor, but expressly allows "employment by custodians in the family household".

Older children can do more

From elementary school onwards, it is realistic for children to take on small household chores. This includes things like throwing away rubbish, clearing the table or clearing the floor in the nursery for vacuuming. "The best thing to do is to agree on the distribution of tasks within the family and ask the child which one would take over," advises Maria Große Perdekamp, ​​head of online advice at the Federal Conference for Educational Advice (bke).

The older the children are, the greater the spectrum: household and gardening activities, running errands, looking after children or senior citizens and shopping activities can be expected of them.

From 14, seven hours per week is appropriate

The German Civil Code (§1619 BGB) even sees helping as a service in return for the educational mandate and a roof over one's head. It goes without saying that the offspring is not made into a Cinderella and the parents' level of development and strength must also be taken into account. After reaching the age of 14, the Federal Court of Justice considers seven hours of household help per week to be appropriate. If someone is sick, if there is an emergency or if both parents have to work full time, the number of hours can increase.

However, one should not confuse a young person with his or her personal domestic help. If he feels that he has been taken advantage of, he can go to the youth welfare office.

It doesn't always have to be money as a reward

Roman then decides grumbling to clear the table, but tries another way: "Moritz always gets money if he helps. Couldn't we introduce that too?" His mother is not enthusiastic about it. After all, she doesn't get any money for washing his sports socks.

Opinions are divided on whether or not children and young people should be paid household services. There are numerous variants: Some pay small amounts for help and do not give pocket money for it. The others expect small jobs like clearing the table and reward additional tasks like washing the car.

Others opt for a cleaning lady, whose payment young people have to do their part. The variant of rewarding extraordinary work with something extraordinary is recommended by educational advisors as "educationally valuable". There doesn't always have to be money as a reward, an excursion, a magazine or an extra reading hour for the little ones are also conceivable.

"If you want to be treated like an adult as a young person, then you should behave like one", says Norbert, father of two sons and a daughter. "For me, this includes taking on a few smaller tasks in the household - without any monetary compensation." He makes no distinction between the sexes: "I just think it's important that Theresa can drive a nail into the wall and that the boys know how the washing machine works."

School shouldn't be neglected

Eleonore, on the other hand, says: "Helping out a little is okay, clearing the table or something, but actually I think that today's kids have enough to do. Week. I think she should spend her free time with sports and friends. She has to clean early enough! "

When helping out in the household, young people not only have duties but also rights. If the family tasks prevent their success at school, for example because there is hardly any time for learning, they are not permitted. Because school attendance should also be seen as protected in family work, analogous to the Youth Labor Protection Act, explains Gerd Engels of the Federal Working Group on Child and Youth Protection (BAJ). Domestic work before and during school is also prohibited.

Most of the housework should lie with parents

A suitable balance has to be found between household duties and leisure time. In principle, young people should participate appropriately. "Two thirds of the time quota should be taken over by the parents," says Klaus Neumann, a psychologist from Munich.

But it also doesn't make sense to spare the children from doing housework. Denise never had to help at home and now regrets it: "I didn't get it. I really have a problem tidying up and keeping it."

The parental home: hotel or at home?

Ultimately, each family has to decide for themselves how the household will be handled. "There is seldom a reason to change daily practice when the adults are happy and satisfied - regardless of what we experts mean or write," says family therapist Jesper Juul. But he wonders about parents who complain that their children behave as if they were in a hotel. "My - admittedly - a bit harsh answer is usually that young people usually do this when their parents have not offered them more than a hotel offers its guests, namely good service."

Helping doesn't just mean cleaning

Small tasks in the family are very important: It is good for everyone when they can do something for the community and notice that they are needed. That doesn't have to mean that every child does the dishes or cleans the sinks. "My daughter doesn't like housework at all. But she likes to look after her younger siblings, plays with them or explains homework to them. She also always goes shopping without complaint when I've forgotten little things," says Eleonore happily.

If children have to look after their younger siblings, that's basically okay. However, parents still have a duty of care for all children. If teenagers feel overwhelmed by babysitting, this must be discussed openly.

Assign fixed tasks to children

It makes most sense to consider together which tasks the child can and would like to take on, what the time frame looks like and under which circumstances work can be postponed. Consistency is required when it comes to implementation. If an agreement is no longer in order for you, then you have to renegotiate. If you involve the child in age-appropriate tasks when they are young, they will later naturally contribute their part to the family household.

Nevertheless, you shouldn't rely on it, because there is a time for almost all young people when everything else is more important than mopping a staircase or emptying the trash can. Teenagers are in a phase of self-discovery. The testing of boundaries is hidden behind provocation, and insecurity behind cheeky slogans. But when parents are irritated anyway, the wrong words are easy to come up with. It is better to withdraw for a moment and bring up the topic again later.

If you want to be taken seriously, you also have to take others seriously

Outbursts of anger and punishment are seldom successful. Of course, children and young people can be confronted with the result of their behavior. In the evening you can serve them their food on the plate that was left behind from midday, put the stinking rubbish bin in the room or refrain from putting clean laundry in the closet for them.

But in the end you have to be clear: a power struggle will bring nothing. You will lose him in the long run, even if you win a battle. It is better to show that you are ready to talk, to adopt a factual tone and to signal that you are taking the young person seriously and that you are listening to them. But the same is expected of him. It is often inevitable that there is grumbling while the work is being carried out. Here you should switch to draft and under no circumstances reward the gemosere by simply relieving the offspring of the assigned task.

Parents have to endure if it takes longer

It often happens that children do not complete the tasks when parents consider it necessary or when it takes much longer. "But it is counterproductive when parents take hold of things again," warns Grosse Perdekamp. This sends a contradicting message to children. That means: Parents have to endure dishes being left standing or everything around the sink being under water. When it comes to dividing up the housework, the aim is not for children to complete the tasks as quickly as the parents. "They should learn: Family is a community to which everyone contributes something."

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