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10 Secret Tips To Get Your Kids To Do Their Chores

Getting kids to do their chores without a battle is something almost all parents struggle with, so if you’re reading this – you are not alone! As parent, educator and certified discipline and guidance coach, I’m here to share my top 10 tips to get your children to do chores. It takes some practice, but I promise your persistence will pay off if you use these strategies.

A young girl taking her laundry out of the dryer and putting in a basket on her own.

What’s Inside
-Learn why it’s important for children to do chores.
-Understand how to assign chores appropriately.
-Explore ways to motivate children without using punishment.

Why Is It Important For Children To Do Chores?

Chores are an essential part of learning responsibility, time management and teamwork. They also provide a sense of accomplishment and contribute to the overall well-being of the family. In this section, we will explore why it’s important for children to do chores, and how they can benefit from them in the long run.

  • Chores Teach Responsibility. Chores are likely the first thing your child will ever be responsible for doing. Doing regular chores and making them part of their daily life is one way to help them develop personal responsibility.
  • Chores Teach Work Ethic. Doing things you’re not exactly thrilled about is a part of life and will be part of any job your kids have later in life. Teaching them to chip in when needed will help them develop skills to get through those boring parts of their future jobs. It can also reduce entitlement. 
  • Chores Increase Self-Esteem. When everyone in the family contributes to keep the household running smoothly, it offers an extra sense of being part of something. Being praised for contributing and doing a good job and knowing that others are relying on them can increase self-esteem. 
  • Chores Teach Important Life Skills. Chores are typically related to household tasks – washing dishes, doing laundry, cleaning, etc. These are all life skills that kids will need to know before they head out on their own, and the only way to learn is through doing. (Yes, there are some 18-year-olds who make it to college and have no idea how to do their own laundry!)

How To Get Your Kids To Do Chores

Okay, let’s dive into the actual actionable tips on how to get your kids to do chores while avoiding fighting, complaining, or constant reminding!

1. Use Youth to Your Advantage

It’s no secret that young children LOVE to help and even though that may create more work at first, encouraging participation is a great way to begin introducing chores and making them seem normal. 

I encourage you to take advantage of that enthusiasm in age-appropriate ways, as soon as possible. Be sure to include very young children in all household activities. If they want to help you sweep or dust or fold their clothes – let them. It won’t be perfect, but it will normalize doing chores as they grow older (and less enthusiastic). 

In fact, in other cultures children willingly help with chores and they are included as soon as they are able to sit or walk.

In western cultures we tend to wait until children are much older, and this contributes to their reluctancy when it comes to helping out around the house.” -Lauren Tingley

2. Involve the whole family

If chores are something new, consider holding a family meeting to discuss the different chores and how everyone will be participating to make sure everyone is on the same page.

When introducing chores, make it clear that the entire family participates. Even though some family members may take on more than others, it’s imperative that everyone’s responsibilities are shared. This will prevent your child from pointing out that someone in the family “doesn’t have to help” and avoid resentment. 

3. Teach Proper Technique

Washing the dishes and sweeping the floor may seem like basic household chores that need no instruction, but if your child has never done them, they might not know how. Or, perhaps more accurately – they might not know how to complete the task efficiently or the way you want them to.

Take the time to show them that if you arrange dishes a certain way, you can fit more in the dishwasher. Teach them to sort their laundry by lights and darks. It’ll save frustration later when you feel things aren’t done correctly, and they’re upset because they didn’t know better. 

4. Choose Age-Appropriate Chores

Make sure both the individual tasks you assign AND the number of tasks make sense for the age and ability of the child.

Older kids can help with more advanced tasks, while a younger child may only have a simple task, like wiping down the table after dinner. As the kids grow up, reassess the task list and reassign as necessary.

One thing to keep in mind is that even though older kids are capable of doing more tasks, they often have busier schedules. Between school, sports, and homework, they may not have a ton of time to help with household chores. This is the perfect time to teach them about time-management and prioritizing. 

5. Consider the Individual

It’s rare that any child will be jumping up and down to do chores but if you have a child who hates the feeling of dishwater on their hands or gags when taking out the trash, assign them a different chore. This is especially important for children with sensory issues.

It will just cause more stress for everyone involved to force a child to do something they genuinely hate – they’ll either be miserable or do everything possible to avoid it, which means you’ll need to spend more time and energy enforcing the chore. Instead, assign a different chore so they’re still helping out without feeling like they’re being punished. 

When deciding on who gets assigned what chores, offering choices of which household duties they’d prefer to do is a great way to involve the kids and make them feel like part of the process.

6. Set Clear Expectations

Kids aren’t mind readers and often don’t have the same priorities as adults. By communicating clearly and thoroughly, you will avoid confusion and ambiguity.

The pile of dishes by the sink might drive you crazy, but your child probably doesn’t even notice them. Likewise, they may not be bothered by a few toys and clothes on their floor, while it may look like a disaster area to you.

Be sure that everyone understands which chores need to be completed and there is an expected timeframe for them to be finished.

The best way I’ve found to enforce this is to connect chores to privileges. Establish which chores need to be completed before your children can have access to wi-fi, video games, or their cell phone. If they want to invite a friend over, make sure they know that their chores need to be completed before that can happen.

7. Use a Chore Chart

Chore charts help with the above suggestion, of setting clear expectations of what needs to be done.

They also provide a sense of accomplishment as children check off the tasks throughout the day or week. Seeing the chores listed on the fridge or elsewhere also serves as a visual reminder of what needs to be done. 

For young children, use stickers on the chore chart to add an extra level of novelty.

8. Gamify and Reward

In addition to using stickers to incentivize young kids, there are plenty of ways to make doing chores more fun.

  • You could set a timer and turn it into a competition to see who can pick up the most toys in 5 minutes or turn cleaning up the kitchen into a dance party.
  • Sorting clothes can turn into a matching game of socks for the little kids, or you can challenge an older child to see if they can set the World Record for how fast they can load the dishwasher.

Another idea is to offer rewards in exchange for completing chores consistently. It doesn’t have to be money but think of things like an extra hour before curfew for older kids, a special trip to the ice cream shop for younger kids, or an extra hour or two of screen time on the weekend. 

9. Don’t Make Chores a Punishment

Chores are something everyone does to contribute to the household; it should be part of your family culture.

Doing extra chores should not be a punishment, as that also turns regular chores into a punishment. There is no good or bad value to chores; they’re just tasks that need to be done just like brushing your teeth or taking a bath.

10. Avoid Criticism

Following along with the above, if you notice something isn’t being done perfectly or the way you want, use it as a learning opportunity. Tell your child something they did well and then offer a suggestion for how to improve next time.

When things are going great, don’t forget to tell them that! Vocalize appreciation for their help keeping the household clean – ESPECIALLY if you didn’t have to remind them to do their chores!

Receiving praise for a job well done is a great way to develop a sense of pride and accomplishment. 

11. Bonus: Allow Flexibility

Everyone has a bad day now and then, or gets sick, and sometimes life doesn’t go as planned.

Encourage everyone in the home to help each other out on those bad days and step up to lighten the load.

Modelling this behavior is also essential – if your kids see you pitching in to help out during a particularly busy week or when someone isn’t feeling well, they’ll be more likely to do the same. Keep things flexible and remember that household chores are a team effort.

Final Thoughts

Getting your kids to help out with the chores may seem like a battle you will never win, but it doesn’t have to be. By considering the preferences and abilities of each family member, setting clear expectations, using charts and incentives, and teaching kids how to do their chores effectively, you can remove barriers and create a positive atmosphere for everyone involved.