Giving children chores to complete in the home is essential to teaching them responsibility and helping them contribute to the family. Of course, that doesn’t mean they’ll always be thankful to their parents for teaching them those lessons! In fact, chore time for kids can often be a stressful time, but with a little creativity and flexibility parents can help turn chore time for kids into less of a chore. After all, who says chores can’t be fun?
Give them a choice! This is not a choice of whether or not to do chores, mind you, but a choice in deciding which chores to do and what order to do them in. The quickest way to create a grumpy kid that does a half-hearted job on his chores is to tell him what to do and make him feel like he has no choice in the matter.
Make a list of the chores to be completed and sit down as a family to determine who will be responsible for which ones. If there is more than one child in the house, let the kids take turns choosing the chores. You may decide to swap chores weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly based on your own family’s preference. That’s not to say there won’t be a few standard jobs each child will be expected to do regardless of choice, like caring for his own pets and picking up his or her own dirty underwear.
Build a chore chart or use this fun, eco-friendly chore chart by Lyn Lomasi to help kids keep track of their responsibilities.
Throw in a little healthy competition. Liven up menial tasks, like picking up toys or putting away laundry, by making them a group effort and turning them into a race, either against the clock or each other. You might even consider giving out silly awards for the quickest, neatest, and most cheerful participants.
Turn up the music and have some fun. The right music has the ability to make people feel more energized and happier, and move quicker. Performing chores like dusting or vacuuming while singing and grooving to their favorite tunes will make tasks seem a little less like a work. Who knows, you might even catch them enjoying themselves!
Hide little surprises for hard-workers. To encourage young kids to do a thorough job picking up or dusting, turn the chores into a fun cleaning treasure hunt. Hide your extra change or little IOU notes in places where they are expected to clean, and let them keep any treasures they find along the way. This suggestion will work best if used occasionally instead of every time the chore is completed.
Enter a chore contract with your big kid. One of the most helpful lessons you can teach your child as she grows older is responsibility. Instead of giving her jobs to complete and hovering over until they are done, create a chore contract. Sit down with the child and determine what jobs will be expected. Clearly spell out how often they should be done (several times a day, daily, weekly) and specifics about each chore. Discuss what type of rewards will be given for jobs completed, such as a set allowance or special privileges. Also, determine what will happen for a job not completed, like dock of allowance or revoked privileges. Write up a chore contract to include all the information and go over the entire contract with your child. Once you and your child have agreed and signed the chore contract, hold him to it. Be willing to change the contract if it no longer works for one or both parties. And reserve the right to add extra bonuses for exceptional jobs (like one-on-one time with a parent, family movie night, or the right to choose what’s for dinner that night).
Once the contract is in place, back off. The child knows when jobs must be completed by. Let him or her decide when to accomplish the tasks and only step in when deadlines aren’t meant. This method is recommended for tweens and teenagers.
Offer Praise. The most effective way to get your kids to do chores is to praise them. Praise a job well done and also praise a child who puts forth the effort, even if the job isn’t quite perfect. Don’t criticize the work done, but instead acknowledge the child for helping to take care of the home. When kids know and feel that they and the things they do are appreciated, they will be more motivated to pitch in next time. A simple thank you goes a long way.
“Children and Chores” by the Center for Effective Parenting
“Making Chores Fun” from Education.com
“How to Make Household Chores Fun for Kids” by P&G Everyday Solutions