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  • Sally Norton

How to Get Children Involved in Chores

Housework is hardly anybody’s favorite thing to do. Some hate it less, though, and it is a good idea to try and get your kids to be one of those. To get children involved in chores and not despising the whole process would benefit their future. Also, we could all use extra help around the house with a sense of community and sharing fun and less exciting segments of family life. Here are some ideas for getting your children to do some housework.

To get children involved in chores, you might want to start early

The earlier you start assigning responsibilities to your kids, the easier for them it will be to accept them. Life is hardly ever free of obligations. Teaching your kids young that we must do certain things will make them more disciplined and take authority in life more easily. It is always good to be able to fight for your beliefs, but one must never forget that rules exist and shouldn’t and can’t be broken. Therefore, the goal is to make cleaning a habit as early as possible. Young children at the age of 5, for example, should learn to put away their toys after playing. When they know this from a very young age, they won’t object to cleaning after themselves in the future. Getting used to the idea that everyone in the house has to participate in cleaning is crucial for avoiding frustration related to chores in the future. It will indirectly prepare children for cohabitation with other people as well.

If you really want to get children involved in chores, you should start early

Devise a reward system that will motivate them

Associating chores with punishment would be a big mistake. Imagine the confusion in one’s mind when a thing we had to do after being bad became an everyday activity in our adult lives. Instead, think of motivating rewards. They will shift the focus from the tediousness of the chore to the good thing that comes after. Does your kid like video games? Tell them they will be allowed to play them for 2 hours if they perform a set of daily chores. It is unrealistic to expect that you can go without electronic entertainment, so why not use that to your advantage? If your kids are teenagers, get them involved in chores by offering to extend the time they need to get back home after a party by an hour. This will get them to do the tasks with a smile. Using money as a reward can be tricky, so we do not recommend it, but there are so many other reward techniques you could try. You know your child pretty well, so this should not be difficult.

Make doing chores a fun activity

Yes, folding clothes is boring, but it doesn't have to be all that bleak. Put on the music, and turn up the volume. Choose something your children like to listen to. If you are doing wardrobe organizing, make it a fun walk down memory lane or put on a fashion show and get the family members to be the judges.

As for the young kids, you could instruct them how to arrange toys to seem like they are in a story set. Little girls can dress up their Barbie dolls and arrange them in some situation-like positions. Try to find some interesting twist to each chore you are getting your kids to do, and it will be a piece of cake for them.

In the end, the very fact that the whole family has done something fun together will add a positive association to the whole process in your kid's mind. Just don’t forget to use proper protective equipment for the skin. You want this to turn into a positive experience, not a visit to a doctor.

Adding some fun to chores will create a positive association with them in a kid’s mind

Divide the chores into smaller and uncomplicated tasks

When something seems easy to do and simple, it meets smaller resistance in kids. There is a greater sense of accomplishment after successfully doing many tasks from the chore list instead of a single, big one. Try to break the big chores into smaller chunks. What you will be doing is merely rephrasing your instruction on what the child should do. Here’s an example of a single chore chunked down into several:

  • Clean up your room. This one frightening task can be broken down into several that seem more doable:

    • Put your clothes back inside your closet

    • Return the books into the drawers and onto the shelves

    • Wipe off the dust

    • Vacuum clean the room

Just knowing where to start in a messy room will be a kind of relief for your teenager. And doing 4 things in 3 hours sounds better than doing a single one for the same amount of time. The art of rephrasing.

Set a clearly defined schedule

You will get children involved in chores more if you tell them exactly how long the chores will last. Boring stuff seems to take forever. Yet, if you know how long it takes, it is easier to stick to it. Of course, as an adult, you must take the most tedious and difficult tasks onto yourself. Try to be efficient about it and not let work accumulate too much. There are many things to do after moving in, so if you have just moved in, make sure you don’t let the stuff lie around for too long. Once your new house gets filled with boxes and stuff, make sure you spruce it up right away. With the biggest work completed, sit down and make a sustainable schedule. This means unpleasant chores will not be jumping at your kids as bad surprises from time to time. Instead, they will have periods for which kids (and adults alike) can properly prepare.

Allow them to choose between the chores

Finally, there is no need to insist that your kid does a certain task you think is best for them. If your daughter would rather vacuum clean the whole house than fold her clothes, let her. Maybe your kid prefers walking the dog three times a day and cleaning after it to doing the dishes. Give your kids a choice between the chores. Show them the whole to-do list and let them select what seems best for them. With that choice comes a sense of autonomy which is always good to create with your parenting. It has a positive effect on the child’s self-esteem and self-worth.

Caption: Make a to-do list and let your kids choose between the chores

Alt-text: A to-do list that should be offered as a selection of choices when trying to get children involved in chores

Final thoughts

With a fresh and positive approach, you can get children involved in chores with a smile. With a bit of good planning and a lot of laughter and fun later, chores can become easy to do and stress-free. Your children will appreciate someday that you helped them build habits of doing housework. And in the process, you will be getting extra help too. A win-win, really!


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