Parenting Made Easier

Tips for Getting Kids To Do Chores and How to Motivate Them

Here’s a popular question many parents ask:


Why is it almost impossible to get kids to do anything around the house nowadays?  Funny thing, it was also a question many of our own parents asked theirs when we were young. In the ‘old days’, when I was younger, my siblings and I did plenty of chores and ran errands for my mother. And, guess what? We performed these chores (responsibilities) without kvetching (complaining) or asking for money!  So here is a list of tips we’ve compiled to help you, the parent, to get your kids to get a move-on doing stuff around the house. Good luck!

Part ‘A’

Objective:  Instill your child with a work-ethic by getting them involved with family duties, i.e., loading the dryer or dishwasher, throwing out the garbage, clearing dishes off the table or folding their own pile of laundry.


Lead by Example -  From the earliest age, your kids look at you for clues on how to act. If they see that you don't put your things away, hang up your clothes, or clear your dishes from the table, they'll get the signal loud and clear that they can leave stuff around for someone else to pick up – and that's going to be you!


Start Early - Begin by making your toddler put away his toys when he's done playing with them and have him straighten up his room once a day. These actions will help him/her develop the habit of chipping in when there's work to be done. As the kids get older, their duties around the house should expand to fit their abilities.


When they complain, teach them about their privileges -  If you have more than one child, you often hear complaints from the older ones about having to do more than the younger ones. The way to deal with this is to remind the older ones of some of the privileges they have that that the younger siblings don't.


Post a List to “To Dos”  - No one wants to turn their children into little domestic slaves, but having a clearly defined list of chores (posting a written list is often helpful), along with who's responsible for doing each one is an important facet of family life.


Be Flexible - Finally, build some flexibility into your system. If one of the kids needs to spend a lot of time on a big project, make some allowances. You might offer to do the child's chores for him in exchange for an equal amount of time spent on other household chores later on.

Part 'B'  

Motivating Your Kids to Complete Their Chores


Isn’t it often a chore in itself to get your kids to do their chores? It could be what and how you’re communicating. Here are some tips for clear communication that should make chores a lot easier for everyone.


♥  Define the Terms  - To you, "clean your room" probably means make your bed, put away your toys, and empty the trash can (among other things). To your child, "clean your room" may mean shove all toys into the closet and out of sight. Specifically say to your child - "I want you to clean your room,a and that means make your bed, take out the trash, etc."


♥  Make a List -  Making a list of what needs to be done in each room will keep everyone on the same page and will keep you from repeating the same list every time the chore comes up. Post the list where your kids can see it and even check off each task they complete.

♥   Keep a chart -  Each time your child successfully completes his or her chore(s), place a sticker on the chart. Reward your children as they complete a certain amount of chores, or as they become more consistent in taking care of their chores. You may also want to reward a willing spirit - don't give a sticker for chores that were completed with excessive whining or protests.

♥  Decide as a Family -  Make sure you and mom are on the same page about how many chores each child should have, and what it means for a chore to be complete (which goes back to the ideas of defining the terms and having a list). If you have older kids - elementary age and above - sit down as a family and involve your kids in how chores are defined and rewarded. This will teach them responsiblity and help them take ownership in the process. 

♥  Make Sure You Do Your Own Chores -  If your kids see you doing the dishes, folding the laundry, or putting away the groceries, they'll be more likely to pitch in and do their part. As always, your kids will copy what you do.


No, chores will never be painless, but a little planning and forethought can make them a little easier for the whole family!


First set of  Tips 1 – 5 were gleaned from writings by Armin Brott , a nationally recognized parenting expert and  author and host of  “Positive Parenting”, a nationally distributed weekly talk show.


Tips 6  - 10 were gleaned from the National Responsible Fatherhood Capacity Building Initiative.



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