While there is a debate out there as to whether or not kids should do chores, most of us as parents want to instill a sense of responsibility in our children by having them participate in household responsibilities.
Children do not inherently understand the significance of chores and responsibilities but it’s an important skill, though, since learning the value of work and reward is a fundamental concept necessary to succeed in the working world.
Even if your little ones aren’t currently pitching in, it’s never too late to establish chores and responsibilities.
The Benefits of Chores (For You and Your Children)
There never seems to be enough hours in the day to get everything done plus spend quality time with your children plus take care of myself.
Delegating chores is one way of clearing off your plate during the day. While your child is working on one household task, you can be working on another. It’s like multitasking but using an extra pair of little hands.
In the meantime, your child is learning valuable life skills and building a strong work ethic – these will serve them when they are out on her own.
Doing chores will also teach children the value of teamwork by being a productive member of the household.
Chores by Age
You have to be careful about how much responsibility you expect from your children depending on their age.
Give them too much and they’ll become frustrated and create a struggle. Give them too little and they have a difficult time building domestic habits and developing responsibility.
The chores you give should directly relate to their abilities. For instance, you can’t expect a two-year-old to unload the dishwasher but a twelve-year-old is perfectly capable of this more complex task.
Here is a list of appropriate chores by age:
- Pick up toys and books
- Put trash in the garbage can
- Put laundry in the hamper
- Match socks
- Put clothes away
- All above tasks
- Feed pets
- Set the table
- Put away groceries
- Make bed
- Sweep/vacuum floors
- All above tasks
- Fold laundry
- Mop floors
- Take out garbage
- Easy meal prep (wash, cut, measure)
- Wipe counters (bathroom and kitchen)
- Pack lunch
- All above tasks
- Cook simple meals
- Wash and dry laundry
- Clean bathtub and toilet
How Do I Get My Kids to Do Chores?
Knowing what chores are appropriate for your child is all fine and dandy, but how do you get your kiddos to actually participate in them?
1. Use a Reward System
Sometimes it takes a bit of motivation through rewards. I know there are many parents who argue against using a reward system to encourage their children to take responsibility for themselves, but I see it as teaching them what life will be like in the workforce.
I mean, would you work for free? Not likely.
There are two things you should consider about rewards before you dismiss the idea:
- Rewards can be scaled back depending on the child’s age. As your child gets older, you don’t have to reward them for cleaning their room – that should be expected.
- Rewards don’t have to be tangible items or money. You can offer extra screen time or a movie night in lieu of toys and money.
What you’re teaching your child through using a reward system is the principle that they can be compensated for making an effort. Just like the workforce.
2. Chore Schedules
Keeping a simple and age-appropriate chore schedule will help to create good habits as well as make doing the chores easier to remember.
You should give your child one main chore per day. This could be taking out the garbage, cleaning the dishes, or washing their laundry.
Their maintenance chores, such as making their bed, cleaning their room, etc., should be done every day.
Remember that your child has other responsibilities too, such as homework or simply play in order to help their little minds grow. Try not to overburden them with multiple chores per day that take up a huge chunk of time.
3. Set a Timer
Children are notoriously unfocused.
Using a timer helps to keep your child focused and prevents the frustration associated with having to complete the chore. Children thrive on expectation, so when they know exactly how long they are expected to clean or tidy, they are more focused on doing so and less likely to give up.
Setting a timer is best used for open-ended tasks such as sweeping, mopping, or dusting. Closed-ended tasks are those that can be done a few steps at a time. In that case, you can have your child pick up 5 books or match 5 pairs of socks at a time.
4. Chore Charts
Should you decide to reward your child – tangible or otherwise – for completing their chores, you will need a means of keeping track of which tasks are finished.
You can do this by making your child a chore chart and placing it somewhere visible.
As chores are completed when they should be, your child receives a checkmark or sticker for that task.
How many stickers are required to reach the reward is completely up to you. However, I would suggest rewarding frequently in the beginning and then increasing how many stickers are needed to get the reward.
What Do I Do When My Kids Refuse to Do Chores?
You can put all the systems into place to motivate your kids to do their chores and they can still cross their arms and refuse to do them.
This can be unbelievably frustrating but there are ways you can get your kids doing their chores when they are being difficult and refusing to do them:
- Recognize your child’s emotions. Chores suck. Explain how you don’t like doing it either but you get it done so you can move on to more enjoyable activities.
- Offer to help. Sometimes your little one just needs your participation to kick start their motivation to complete a chore. This is especially true for younger children.
- Make it fun. Turn cleaning into a game by having a competition as to who can finish their chore the fastest (refrain from giving out rewards for this – verbal praise is sufficient).
- Set a timer before doing the chore. Sometimes your kid just wants to finish what he or she is doing before tackling a chore. Set a timer for a minute or two to give them time to mentally prepare.
- Give them control. Let your kiddo organize their chore chart and decide what tasks are completed on certain days. You can also let your child decide when during the day they want to finish them.
Most importantly, know when to give up and when to persevere. You don’t want to drive yourself crazy trying to get your kids to do chores but you also don’t want them to get the idea that they are getting off scot-free.
Getting Your Kids to Do Chores
Getting your little ones involved in household responsibilities may seem like an uphill battle but, over time, they will begin to develop the skills they will need to live a fulfilling and independent life.