Ways to Get Your Kids to Do Chores

boy doing dishes - kids and chores

Tips on How to Encourage Kids to do Chores

I was recently asked to share my thoughts on helping parents find practical solutions for involving their children in chores and responsibilities around their home.  Disclaimer to the parents reading this post: It takes effort, consistency and sometimes being the “bad guy” in your kid’s mind. The conversations I have regularly with parents asking for help in this area are numerous, and it has become evident to me that it is a continuing challenge for families.

Let’s talk about why having your child help around the home is so important. Over the last 20-30 years, it seems more and more parents are not requiring or teaching their children to do much around the home. Excuses for this are plenty: “the kids are too busy,” “it’s easier for me to do it myself then have the kids do it,” “they don’t do a good job,” “I just don’t like fighting with them to get them to do it,” and the list goes on.

We do our children a disservice when we do not teach them the skills they will need to be successful adults. When raising my three boys, I knew one day they would be husbands with wives who would appreciate their help around the house. I did not want them to be full of excuses, lazy, or indifferent to the needs of others. I wanted my sons to realize they should help carry the load within relationships and families.

Here are my suggestions for creating a home with family members who share responsibilities:

1)      Have a meeting with your spouse to outline expectations, reinforcement, and discipline measures for when chores are not completed, done incorrectly, or done with attitude. If you are a single parent, have a meeting with yourself, or see if your former spouse will partner with you to have consistency in both homes.

2)      Write down who does what and when, who will be the “bad guy” (if only one of you), and what the discipline measures will be. Without consequences your request will likely be ignored. The change may not happen after the first consequence, but if you maintain consistency, this will eventually create a change. Adults have consequences in place for arriving to work late or for speeding on the roads. Having accountability can help keep the drama to a minimum.

3)      Scheduling of chores is next. If you are dishing out responsibilities with multiple children in the home, you must consider age and capabilities. Most parents give their kids trivial responsibilities such as taking out the trash or feeding the dog. Consider that your child’s teacher is probably requiring more of them based on their age. Chores need to be responsibilities that a child can take pride in accomplishing. Make a list of what you would like done and what you might like taken off your plate. Here’s a list of Age Appropriate Chores to get you started; click on the link to view/download it.

4)      Decide on the frequency of the chores. Is Sally doing the dishes during the weekdays and John on the weekends? Are the family socks to be matched once a week? You must decide on a schedule for chore completion based on your family dynamics. For my family, it was best to have my boys do one chore a day, Monday thru Friday, and have the weekends free. Each day there was a different chore and the schedule was repeated the following week. I also thought about timing of chores. If I was going to have one son match the family socks, I had to have the washed laundry ready to go.

5)      Give the kids a significant responsibility. In the book, Rite of Passage: A Father’s Blessing  Jim McBride speaks about giving one larger, more important responsibility to each child. We have done this in our home and it as been wonderful to see their confidence grow. My husband and I chose outdoor yard work, cooking one meal a week for the family, and taking care of our hot tub maintenance.

6)      Create a Chore Chart or some way you and your kids can visibly see what needs to be done. For young kids, you can use magnetic boards with clip art of images, such as a broom for sweeping, or a bag of trash for taking out the trash. Once your child can read, you can stop using the clip art and use words. As your children get older and they have a cellphone, you might consider using an app to keep track of chores and to check off completed chores. Here are a few apps to consider: Wishfinity, HomeRoutines, and ChoreMonster.

7)      Check their work. Yes, it takes time, but remember you are the parent and parenting is an investment in your child’s future. It is your job to teach your kids how to properly complete a task. Expect that there will be “do overs”, and your child will complain, and you might get a little frustrated. You must stay strong, because the moment you let something slide, you show your child you are willing to lower your expectations and ignore the consequences you have set for them. Remember, consistency is key!

8)      Give Praise. When your child has an unusually difficult day, praise them on completing some of their chores. Remind them, though, that life can be difficult when they become adults in their own home with their own family, and chores rarely stop just because you have a tough day.

Bonus Point: Get a grade on your parenting from someone you know and trust. Have you ever been in a situation where you wanted to say something to someone about how they are raising their child, but you are just not comfortable blurting out your unsolicited opinion? Well, if you ask the right person, you might get some real advice even your best friend would not tell you. We had a client whose daughter needed some structure and our organizers could see it, but the mom kept making excuses for her daughter’s behavior. Years later, the child was out of control. What if the parent had gotten feedback from our organizers whom she trusted in her family space? The key is being willing to hear constructive criticism from someone you consider objective and wise in parenting.

Giving your children responsibilities at every age is beneficial. I believe teaching skills around the home is more important than being heavily involved in sports. Your child may be an awesome football player or swimmer now, but if they are not prepared to help as a significant other when they are older, it will create stress on the relationship and a chaotic home life. Chores, expectations and responsibilities within a family structure serve many purposes and often have benefits outside of extra help around your home. Do not let teaching chores become a challenge in your family. Consider the impact of increased skills on your children, and how being responsible prepares your children for a successful adult life.

Lorraine Brock is a professional organizer, family coach, speaker, and founder and owner of Get Organized! Get Organized! is a professional organizing company in the Dallas, Texas area. Get Organized! specializes in organizing and de-cluttering homes as well as implementing systems in the home for better family management. A popular media guest, Lorraine has appeared on Dallas’ two top morning television shows: Good Morning Texas and Good Day Fox, and has been featured on various radio outlets. She has been hallmarked in many local, regional, and national print and online magazines, such as the Dallas Morning News, The North Texas Kids Magazine, SheKnows.com, and Daily Candy Kids. To get more information about Lorraine, visit www.GetOrganized.ws.  You can connect with Get Organized! on Facebook, follow Get Organized! on Twitter and connect with Lorraine Brock on LinkedIn.



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