5 ways to get your children to do chores
The fact that children don’t like to do chores is not surprising, and the reasons are equally obvious. Chores take work and effort, prevent them from doing what they want to do, and often take time away from friends. Despite the lack of interest, and sometimes outright refusal, there are ways we can encourage our children to do their chores and establish this as a consistent routine.
1. Give time limits
As with all parenting, each child’s personality needs to be taken into account. Some children naturally complete chores immediately because they don’t want to have to do it later, but some children will resist when they are told something needs to be completed immediately. When we set time limits such as, “your bedroom needs to be clean before lunchtime” then it allows them to complete it on their own time, without the pressure of it having to be finished immediately. Setting a time limit teaches them to prioritize tasks and deadlines, and if they don’t complete a chore and receive a consequence for it, the lesson is more poignant than nagging them over and over to complete it immediately.
A chore chart can help you children know what tasks they need to do each day. We have many free chore charts on our website so you’re sure to find that will appeal to your child.
2. Break chores down into small tasks
Children can become overwhelmed if they receive a long list of chores, and feeling overwhelmed leads to resistance or emotional breakdowns, leaving the chores untouched. One way to break down chores is to give your child one or two steps at a time and then when they report back to you that something is finished, you give them another step. Written task lists are also helpful as children get older because they can check off each item as it’s completed. Labeling containers or creating task lists for each room helps your child focus on one step at a time and ensures that the chore is fully completed.
3. Make it fun
Chores are always easier to complete when children are having fun and not thinking about the work involved. Occasionally participate in chores with your children. This provides quality time with your child to listen and ask questions while they are working. Suggest having a race between siblings to complete chores- reminding them that you will be checking the quality of the work if they complete it quickly. I also recently heard of an idea to turn on a song and have the children put away as many toys as possible while the song is playing. Or simply, turning on a fun playlist of well-known songs makes the time pass faster. One popular app is called “Chore Monster” which provides a fun, interactive way to list chores, record completion, and work towards rewards. These are just a few of the many ways to add variety to the routine of completing chores.
4. Don’t do the chores for them
If your child chooses not complete a chore, or has to leave before it is finished, resist the urge to do the chore for them. Doing the chore for them teaches them that if they wait long enough then they won’t have to follow through. If your child is also consistently asking for help and then you end up doing it for them because they say the don’t know how, then take the
time once to show them how to properly complete the chore. After that first time, watch them and give tips as needed, but don’t do the work for them.
5. Reinforce with rewards and consequences
Going along with number 4, if there is no consequence for doing or not doing chores it is difficult to get children to follow through. Rewards and consequences provide motivation for working. Eventually rewards and consequences will not be necessary for every chore completed, but if your child is resistant to doing chores or this is a new behavior, then establish a reward and consequence system to reinforce and establish boundaries.
It is possible to get your children into the routine of completing chores. At first it takes consistency and focused attention as a parent, but eventually it will become a regular part of home life and teach your children important skills for when they live away from home.