Kids hate chores.
Parents don’t like doing them much either! I mean, we all want to just relax and do fun activities with our family and friends instead of sweating out and breaking our back scrubbing on the floor, right?
However, we choose to be responsible parents. And we want to raise responsible kids.
The problem is that chores are one of the major causes of disagreements.
Kids complain and whine, adults nag and shout, arguments break out until nothing gets done.
Most of the time, it feels like washing those dishes yourself would be much quicker than telling your kids to do them and be responsible.
But, you really shouldn’t.
Other than helping develop life skills like teamwork, cooperation, and responsibility, teaching your kid to do chores can also foster a sense of belonging, self-worth and preparing them to be self-sufficient.
Now, how do you reap these benefits without having to shout and nag every morning? Here are 8 effective ways that you implement!
8 Effective Ways to Motivate Kids to Do Chores
1. An Early Start
Probably the most important things that you can ensure your children do their chores, voluntarily, is to start them as early as possible— ideally at least 18 months old.
Psychologists revealed that kids naturally want to start helping at such age— picking up dropped items here or a little sweeping there.
However, this promising desire to pitch in and help their parents don’t have the chance to fully develop is that we think kids, in general, are unhelpfully helpful. Their “help” seems to make the chore take longer, often messing things up, leading the parents to just do it themselves and get it over with fast.
Try to fight the urge to shoo your little one away as he starts to volunteer to help with chores. Yes, they can make a mess when sweeping the floor, but it is much easier to instill this habit when your kids are young.
As you start noticing that they wish to help, create an age-appropriate chores list. And as they get older, you can add more complex tasks. Here’s a good breakdown:
18 months – 3 years old
- Water flowers
- Help clean spills
- Help put away groceries
- Put clothes in the hamper
- Dust tables
- Help sort and load laundry
- Help unload dishwasher
- Pick up toys and books
4 – 5 Years Old
- Help with leaf raking
- Picking weeds
- Help setting and cleaning the table
- Help make the bed
- Help with simple tasks in meal prepping
6 – 7 Years Old
- Sort laundry
- Sweep garage
- Vacuum rooms
- Empty indoor trash cans
- Making their bed
- Putting the laundry
- Sweeping the floor
8 – 9 Years Old
- Taking the trash out
- Making simple meals and snacks
- Taking the pet for a walk
- Mopping the floor
- Cleaning the windows
10 Years and Older
- Cleaning the kitchen
- Helping mow the yard
- Changing bed sheets
- Making a complete meal
- Washing the dishes
- Cleaning their room
2. Removing Distractions
“Yes mom, I’ll do it later!” Then goes back to whatever he’s doing.
You probably heard and seen this one a gazillion times!
Well, if your kid is not doing his chores just because she is watching TV or playing his favorite video game, then you simply remove whatever is distracting them.
This more likely means turning off the electronics. And they do not come back until their chores are done.
After that, briefly talk to your kid about it. Ask them what they think is going on and what’s getting in their way of doing their assigned chores.
Then, motivate them to get their work done first so that they do what they really want to do. Appealing to your kid’s self-interest instead of just explaining the abstract concept of duty or responsibility is more often effective for kids.
3. Set a Cheerful and Positive Tone
Sometimes, it is quite difficult for parents to be patient with their kids, especially when helping around the house.
I mean, you’re already tired of all the things you’ve done in the few hours, then your kid just woke up and already scrolling through his phone instead of making his bed.
We ask nicely one time, the second time, but the third time is when we most often explode and nag.
However, it should not come to that. It makes a huge difference asking for help in a cheerful and positive tone.
Before asking your kid, take a few deep breaths and say something like “Honey, please help pick up your toys so it is safe to walk around here.” Your kid will more likely follow your orders and do his chore without whining.
Also, when reframing chores, it is important to set a good example. If you whine and grumble about your family contributions and responsibilities, your kids will likely do the same to their younger or older siblings.
4. A Reward System
If you wish your children to take responsibility for their assigned chores, you need to integrate their tasks with a reward system.
Place a chart on the fridge with each kid’s name on it and their chores listed after their names. If they do their chore promptly and right, they get a checkmark. And when they get 5 checkmarks, they will get a reward.
Now, rewards are more than just money. It can be buying their favorite toy, eating one more cookie, staying up an hour later or getting their phone right after.
Kids might understand that cleaning up their room or setting the table is part of their role in the family, however, they’re not going to feel it in some significant way. Basically, chores are work and in that sense, there’s a few of us who will want to work unless we are getting rewarded for it. And such reward is something that we like. Kids want the same motivating principle. They wish to be rewarded with something meaningful.
5. Working As A Team
An efficient and simple way to make chores more fun is to have teamwork and do some of it together. It never hurts a child’s morale to see his parents getting into the trenches with him. Set an example for your children by getting in there and doing some chores with them.
Work together to wash the dishes or clean the floors. Have your own assigned tasks, do it while your kids are doing theirs. For instance, you can prune your trees or mow the garden while your kids sweep or pull out some weeds.
Kids can benefit from seeing their parents help to get the task done. Plus, you will also be there to demonstrate how to properly get the chore done, so you can ensure that they do it right.
6. Gamification and Competition
Kids love games!
And turning the dreaded chores into a game can make it easier for you to get your kids to jump on board. Take turns singing songs from the rooms you are cleaning. Do the laundry or cleaning toys while pretending to be robots. Have a kitchen dance party while cooking or washing the dishes.
Chores do not have to be some serious business. If they see chores as a great chance to bond and play with you, kids will look forward to doing their assigned task.
In addition to just making chores into a game, you can also turn it into a competition. I mean, everybody loves a challenge, and kids, in particular, tend to be very competitive.
Things like, “I can fold the laundry faster than you can load the dishes in the dishwasher” or something like “I can put more toys on the box than you.”
All of a sudden, work is being done at a quick pace, and yet all involved have a bright, competitive smile and laughing at one another.
If you’re worried your kid won’t do a great job in doing their chores because they are doing it rapidly, then you can have a rule that winning is not counted if the chore is not done properly.
7. Offering Choices
With choices, you increase your kid’s willingness to help. Kids like to feel that they have some sort of control in their lives. Plus, being able to make their own choices is an important skill.
For your kids, you can limit it to 2 choices. For instance, you can ask your little one:
“Do you want to vacuum the floor or mop it?”
“Do you want to set up the table or washes the dishes?”
The key here is to offer choices that are acceptable to you. So that whatever your kid chooses, the task is completed and your kid is able to be responsible.
Kids like to be praised. I mean, who doesn’t?
So, when your little one helps around the house and look at you with great accomplishment, offer encouragement to reinforce the behavior.
Saying a simple “thank you, my dear, that was helpful” or “good job, honey” can put emphasis on how your kid contributed to the family and making it easier to get a repeat performance in the future.