How to Get Your Kids to Do Chores (without Nagging and Yelling)
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How many chores do you do that realistically you could have your child do? And does the thought of that feel weird or overwhelming? Let’s talk about the value of chores and the importance of getting your kids involved in them.
As with most things involved in raising children, it starts with us, the parents. While it's sometimes easier to say "I'll do it myself!", by doing so you're missing an opportunity to teach your child important social and life skills (something we talk a lot about at The Parenting Alchemy).
So in this article, we’re going to begin by exploring how to get your kids to do chores. We’ll then look at what age-appropriate chores we can assign to our kids before discussing how to respond when kids do (or don’t do) their assigned duties.
Why kids need to do chores
Let’s be honest, having our kids do chores makes it much easier for us to keep the house clean, doesn’t it? While that might be incentive enough for many parents to assign tasks, children benefit greatly from helping around the home.
Builds respect and appreciation
Naturally, children don’t understand how much work goes into managing a home. And we know that scolding or nagging kids is not an effective way of encouraging their respect and appreciation. Quite often, it can cause the opposite effect.
When you ask kids to do chores, you’re giving them a chance to learn first-hand how much effort goes into keeping the home tidy. Through those experiences, they’ll gain more respect and appreciation for the work you do.
Teaches life skills
Chores are a great way of teaching our kids life skills, especially those around the home. Mopping floors and washing plates are excellent skills to start with at first.
Gradually, you can help kids ‘level-up’ by giving them more challenging tasks, such as operating appliances like washing machines to do their laundry. When they go out to the real world, they’ll find themselves already equipped with the necessary skills!
Encourages teamwork and bonding
Chores Chart for Children Ages 2 - 13 Years Old
After figuring out how to get your kids to do chores, the next big question is what kinds of tasks you should assign to them. When it comes to this, it’s best not to take a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach.
For kids to benefit from doing chores, you should assign appropriate tasks based on their age. Here are a few age groups, along with examples of age-appropriate chores that they can take over.
Chores for 2-5 years old
In this age range, it’s best to start with the easiest of chores. The aim here is to get them used to the idea of taking on very responsibility before moving on to more significant tasks as they get older.
- Take their dirty laundry to the laundry basket.
- Put their toys back where they belong
- Putting entry shoes away
- Putting their laundered clothes in their drawers
- Putting their toys away
- Helping put yard toys away
- Making their bed
- Putting their dirty laundry in the laundry basket
- Bathing and drying (supervised for bath safety)
These chores involve simple tasks with minimal instructions, allowing them to complete the tasks with ease.
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Chores for 5 - 7 years old
Once kids reach the 5 to 7-year age range, it may be a good time for them to take over some of their self-care. By this, we’re talking about chores like getting dressed, making their bed, and brushing their teeth.
- All of the above
- Rinsing meal plates (with the aid of a stool)
- Sorting laundry
- Watering plants
- Setting the table
- Picking up family dog poop from the yard (use a doggie bag)
- Handing you their meal dishes
- Helping load the dishwasher
What do these kinds of tasks have in common?
As you can see, these chores have slightly more personal responsibility involved. Through these kinds of tasks, kids begin to learn how to take ownership of their hygiene and personal space.
Chores for 8 - 10 years old
At a slightly later age, you can give kids a bit more personal responsibility. Their chores can include cleaning their rooms, which provides them with responsibility for their personal space beyond their beds.
Also, you could have them take out the trash. Chores like this are family-related tasks, giving them responsibility beyond themselves and fostering a sense of teamwork.
- Light bathroom cleaning
- Unloading dishwasher
- Loading dishwasher
- Hand-washing dishes
11 - 13 years old
As kids enter their teen years, they’ll be able to handle more responsibility. Gradually, they’ll take responsibility for personal needs like hygiene, organizing their bedrooms, and managing their homework with little supervision.
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For household tasks, you could allow them to operate things like the lawnmower and dishwasher to contribute to household responsibilities.
- Washing family pets
- Racking leaves
- Mowing law
- Assisting with garden
- Cooking light meals
How to keep track of chores for kids
These days, it’s much easier to keep track of chores than it used to be back in our day. Of course, you can stick to traditional ways of keeping track, like setting up a family whiteboard or weekly chore chart. If you decide to do this, it’s critical to place the whiteboard or chart somewhere that everyone can often see.
An excellent example would be to put it up in the kitchen or even on the fridge (you can use the Kids Routine Chart Bundle for this). That way, you can often check on it, and the kids can easily update their chore progress.
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If you prefer to keep things simple, you could use collaboration websites and tools. These are the same ones that adults use at work and kids use it in school, like Google Calendar. Setting up a family calendar would be a fun and transparent way of keeping everyone on schedule with their chores.
Should kids get rewarded for doing chores?
What do you do when kids complete their chores? There is an age-old debate around the topic of whether or not we should reward kids for doing what they’re supposed to do. Then, there’s a secondary debate about how we should go about rewarding them if we choose to do so.
First, yes, we should reward our kids for doing their chores. But, not necessarily with money.
Practicing positive reinforcement is crucial in encouraging kids to develop good habits that will last them a lifetime. So, whenever our kids finish doing the tasks that we’ve assigned to them, we must do something to acknowledge and affirm them for it.
But how can we do it in such a way that promotes positive values?
Never, ever underestimate the power of positive words from a parent to a child. In the case of chores, saying something as simple as “You did the job so well!” goes a very long way towards building a child’s self-esteem. Remember: as kids grow up, the first people they look to for approval are their parents.
Some parents take it a step further by giving something as a token, like a bit of spending money or a chance to do something fun. But, I find that a family oriented reward works best to instill the spirit of team work.
After a week or a month of chores, for example, a reward like a camping trip or a meal at their favorite restaurant are excellent ways of rewarding the family for doing their chores.
How to respond when kids don’t do their chores
Just as important as rewards and positive reinforcement, so are the consequences for not doing chores. Nagging, scolding, or any kind of physical punishment is not helpful in these situations, so it’s best not to resort to using them.
Children respond much better when you set positive expectations on them instead of resorting to coercion, guilt-tripping, or anything of that nature.
When one of our kids refuses to do their chores, an excellent place to start would be open communication and diplomacy.
Talking things out will allow you to understand why they’re resisting doing their chores and reach a mutual understanding.
Instead of using outright punishment, allow them to experience first-hand the consequences of incomplete chores.
For example, if they do not do their laundry, you shouldn’t do it for them either. A day or two of stinky clothes will clarify to them the importance of doing chores (like laundry) much more effectively than any scolding or yelling.
At The Parenting Alchemy, I teach logical consequences that make sense, but also, we use our many other conscious parenting tools that don't involve a consequence and results in children being self-disciplined and responsible.
How to mentor kids in doing their chores
Above all, chores should never be a ‘do it because I said so’ type of activity. Instead, you should use it as another opportunity for you to bond with your kids through shared responsibility. Chores are another way of mentoring and shaping our kids, and the best way to do that is to lead by example.
Begin by demonstrating to your kids how they should do those chores, then gradually step back and let them take over. The more they learn that they can handle the tasks you assign to them, the more empowered they will feel.
With time, the small responsibilities that they’ve held inside the home will prepare them to take on bigger ones out in the real world.