Family Life

How to Get the Kids to Help with Household Chores

In a family, everybody is supposed to pull together and do their part – and that includes keeping the household running by attending to regular chores. 

When you are a parent, however, getting the kids to willingly participate in routine household tasks can sometimes feel like an uphill battle. Fortunately, with a bit of creativity and patience, you can turn chore time into a fun and rewarding experience for the whole family.

Why Are Chores a Positive Thing for Children?

Even though it can initially feel like a struggle when you try to get the kids to cooperate with a chores list, you should not give up. Chores are actually a huge part of the process of a child’s social development. Even though you want to give your kids plenty of time to just play and be kids, introducing them to chores as early as age three (when kids actively start mimicking their parents) can help them better prepare for adulthood.

Here are some key reasons why assigning your children chores and expecting them to follow through is important:

  • It teaches responsibility: Chores provide children with opportunities to learn some essential life skills – including how to take care of themselves and maintain their surroundings. When children develop a sense of shared responsibility toward the household, they often have a greater appreciation for what they have.
  • It helps build life skills: Household chores teach children some of the practical life skills that they will need to navigate life on their own. Whether it’s cooking, cleaning, doing laundry or other basic tasks, children gain the knowledge and experience that prepares them for adulthood and independence. 
  • It encourages good time management: Chores help children learn to manage their responsibilities and allocate their time responsibly. They learn how to balance work and play at a young age and understand that there is time for both.
  • It promotes confidence: Over time, children become self-assured as they gain mastery over new skills and find their places in the world. As you begin to rely on them to do their jobs without prompting, they may take initiative in other areas.
  • It helps children develop a work ethic: By participating in household chores, children develop a strong work ethic and learn the importance of commitment. Goals give a child an opportunity to be successful.
  • It encourages accountability: Assigning chores helps children understand that they are accountable for their actions. When they have specific tasks to complete, they learn the consequences to themselves (and their family members) of not fulfilling their duties and the importance of follow-through.

Working together on household chores with your children fosters a sense of teamwork and cooperation within the family. Collaborating to keep the home clean and organized promotes communication, problem-solving and mutual respect among the whole family. It also provides opportunities for bonding as you and your children work together towards common goals.

How Do You Get the Kids to Pitch In?

Remember ─ the earlier you introduce the idea of chores, the easier it will be for your children to get into a helping routine. That being said, some kids take to chores a lot more willingly than others. 

If one or more of your children seem reluctant to participate, here are some effective strategies to encourage kids to help with household chores:

Keep Chores Age-Appropriate

Younger children can help with simple tasks like putting away toys or setting the table, while older children can take on more responsibility such as vacuuming or washing dishes. Adjusting chores to match your child’s developmental stage is important. If a child’s chores are too complex, they may feel frustrated and incompetent, and that can discourage them from wanting to even try.

Make It a Game

Transforming chores into a game can make them more fun for young children, especially if yours happen to be competitive. For instance, you can turn laundry folding into a race to see who can finish their pile the fastest or use a timer to see if all the toys can be picked up within 100 seconds. Adding an element of competition or making it a challenge can motivate kids to participate in surprising ways.

Offer Your Children Choices

Even adults are more receptive to work when they have a certain sense of personal autonomy about the situation – and kids are the same way. Create a list of age-appropriate tasks and let your kids pick which ones they want to tackle. Giving them options empowers them, and the fact that they chose the chore can make them feel more responsible for completing it. 

Set Clear Expectations

Clearly communicate what is expected of your children in terms of chores. Break down tasks into manageable steps and provide instructions if needed. Setting clear expectations helps children understand their role in maintaining the household and reduces confusion or resistance borne of frustration. Don’t get into the habit of “taking over” the chore when your child struggles with a job but do be willing to step in and guide them when they ask for help.

Use Positive Reinforcement

It is really important not to make chores a punishment. You do not want that association in your children’s heads if you want them to be willing participants in cleanup and organizational tasks. Praise and encouragement are the way to go when motivating children to do their chores. Offer specific compliments when they complete tasks well and consider using a fun reward system such as a sticker chart for earning points towards a special privilege. 

Lead by Example

You can’t expect your kids to be enthusiastic about household chores if you’re openly dismal about them yourself. Treat your own chores as a game or a chance to show your love for your family, not a burden. You want your children to see chores as a normal part of everyday life, not something to be dreaded.

Get Into a Routine

Establishing a consistent chore routine helps children understand when they are expected to contribute. Consider creating a chore chart or calendar to visually track progress and keep everyone accountable. If you combine that chart with a reward system (like ice cream after a week of remembering to pick up their toys), you make it easy for your kids to associate their efforts with the payoff.

Getting kids to help with household chores doesn’t have to be a source of tension or frustration for anybody. With patience, creativity, and consistency, chore time can become family time, and you’ll be giving your children a great foundation for the future.