How to get your child to to do their chores is a tricky topic. I don’t think there is anything that parents and kids fight about more. And brothers and sisters fight about it too – It’s your turn, no, its your turn, I did it last time, how come I have to do that, that isn’t fair – kids have an endless supply of complaints and excuses when it comes to chores. It’s exhausting and moms just get worn down. After all, it’s ALWAYS easier to just do it yourself.
But as a good parent, you need to find a good solution for kids and chores. The fact is, these kids are going to be doing some kind of chores for the rest of their lives. Unless they are going to end up independently wealthy with a full staff of maids, gardeners, and cooks, the fact is there are decades worth of chores in their future. And believe me, your future son or daughter-in-laws will bless you forever if you can teach your kid how to do their fair share of the household chores! (Voice of experience with two married sons)
Basically, everyone in life has to do some amount of chores, and with a few rare exceptions, no one LIKES to do them. But they’re a fact of life, both at home and in the workplace. So, who is going to have the bigger advantage in life – a kid who learns early how to do their chores without complaining and fussing about them, or the one who doesn’t?
Here are my best tips on how to get your child to do their chores
I think you need to be consistent and very matter-of-fact with kids when it comes to doing their chores. Be the same way you are about car seats, bedtimes, and good manners. It’s just something that is daily, non-negotiable, and nothing to make a fuss about. Get them done quickly and well so you can move on to other things that are more fun!
I love this post on the Montessori Method of getting kids to participate in life tasks (that’s what they call chores). I think kids these days act so helpless and expect parents to wait on them hand and foot. That’s just not healthy. Kids take great enjoyment in showing they are helpful and capable if the chores are presented the right way.
Enforcement is huge, and that is your job as a parent. The rule in my house is that if you don’t do a chore on the day it is given, the next day, you will do that chore PLUS a penalty chore of my choosing. Miss 2 chores and you get 2 penalty chores. It adds up fast and my kids know that there is not ever going to be any benefit to them for skipping a chore. That’s important because once you let them get away with it, you’ve started up a big hamster wheel of avoidance.
Same thing for chores done poorly. I’ve been struggling with my teen on this one all summer long. Chores are done first thing in the morning before a TV, computer, or video game can be turned on. He has ADHD and I know once he gets sucked into something electronic, there is no going back, especially if I’m at work and can’t monitor his usage. However, now he has hit on a strategy of skimping on his chores to try and get to the good stuff faster – the stinker!
Check out my very popular post on Intentional Incompetence – it’s a tactic that I think EVERY kid pulls at some point.
The thing is, in the long run, this strategy is not going to pay off. Predictably, every single time, I make him go back and complete the chore properly. If he’s done it poorly enough, he earns an extra penalty chore as well. If it really gets bad over a few days, he also loses his electronics and has to miss fun activities with his friends. It’s taken a while, and we had a long, serious talk about it, but we’re finally coming to an understanding and I can see that he is at least trying, although he’s still got a ways to go.
I’ve Got Some Unorthodox Methods to Get Kids to Do their Chores
Everyone is different in how they assign chores to their kids, but I do something even more unusual (yes, of course, this is ME. If you’ve been reading my blog at all, you know I always put my own unique spin on things). I assign chores more or less permanently rather than the more usual chore rotation most families use. Check out my post that chores aren’t fair at my house and that’s OK. I think we worry far too much about making things “fair” for kids. My boss never cares about FAIR – he cares about DONE!
Some things are no brainers. I’m a working Mom, so my kids have always made their own beds, cleared their own dishes, and washed their own laundry. I don’t even consider those “chores”, that’s just life – if they want clean clothes, they’d better wash them. Then again, teenaged boys are not that concerned about clean clothes, so I do have to push a few reminders on that one! But at least I’m not the one to actually DO their chores. That’s just not happening! I’ve got plenty of my own chores to do.
But those pesky little daily things, like taking the trash out, loading and unloading the dishwasher, helping set up and clean up for dinner, those I assign on a more or less permanent basis. It’s just SO much easier. I never have to worry about whose week it is, or who traded chores with who. If the dishwasher did not get unloaded, I know exactly who I need to hunt down and yell at.
And it’s a good thing because my two daughters-in-law have very firm ideas about how the chores should be split up and my boys do their chores a lot more often than I could ever get their father to do!
It’s a process, but we’ll get there. What kinds of things do you do to help your kids do their chores?