A few centuries ago, families had kids in order to have free labor on hand. I’m not going to advocate exploiting your children, but as difficult as it may be to get your little ones to do their chores, it is possible. By 2 years of age, most kids are not only able to help with house chores, many actually want to work. Don’t be worried about what your kids can’t do, encourage them to do what they can. It is at this early age that kids can learn a good work ethic and the importance of self reliance. In this article, I’ll teach you how to get your kids to do chores in three great ways to motivate kids to do chores. Best of all, they are fun!
Motivating kids to do household chores can be fun the first few days but afterward can seem challenging. There is one rule to keep in mind before we get started – don’t expect too much too soon, and be patient, especially with younger children. If your two-year-old loves helping with the dustpan, let him. But keep in mind that you might need to sweep up after him (when he’s not looking)!
Make It Fun With Contests, Games, and Play
Do you remember Mary Poppins? Her secret wasn’t the magic – it was the fun. By making kids chores exciting, she encouraged Jane and Michael to help with household tasks. They had FUN.
You can make chores fun with more than one kid easily – hold contests and make up games out of each task. If you have an only child, play can still be a big part of cleaning. Just make yourself her playmate for a bit. Who can put the most blocks away the fastest? How fast can you sweep the kitchen? Who can fold the most pairs of socks?
Keep laughter part of chores, and they will go by faster – for you and your kids and also strengthen family bonds.
Management books for the modern workplace strongly advise recognition. After all, no employee likes to perform the same task over and over without anyone appreciating their efforts. The same is true of kids and regular chores. To make your little one eager to work, provide an incentive.
The idea of paying kids to do chores appalls some parents, but it is a great tactic for dealing with teenagers. While you can teach kids about the importance of contributing to family life by doing chores, the truth is young children may not fully understand that yet – it has little practical application in the child’s life. For younger kids, you can pay in family time – watching the movie of their choice, letting them pick where to eat out on the next whole family outing, or having a “Kid’s Day” on the weekend as a reward for their efforts.
Some families use the reward system as prep for a family vacation. Each week of completed chores might mean that they earn an extra vote for where the next family vacation will be – Disneyland, their grandparent’s house, or another option that fits in the family budget.
For some kids, a gold star is all they need. Don’t shy away from rewards if your child responds well to them. The real world has a strong incentive structure, too.
Create A Chore Chart
Let’s talk more about that gold star. Some kids don’t care about the actual value of their work. What they really want is a shiny sticker, and someone to say “Great Job!”And why not? If your kid loves to please, build a chore cards/chart that lists out all the chores everyone is responsible for, or download one of our editable age appropriate chores list:
- Editable Recommended Chore List for children ages 2 to 3
- Editable Recommended Chore List for children ages 4 to 5
- Editable Recommended Chore List for children ages 6 to 7
Toddlers and primary school children love this approach. Many older kids also love the gold star idea. Even adults get into it. If you’ve ever read Gretchen Rubin’s The Happiness Project, you already know how much the desire for a star or smiley face sticker can motivate younger family members to understand chores as part of their everyday lives.
One final parenting tip for getting young kids to want to do chores: adapt to their personality. Make it fun, reward them, keep them on track and they will whine less when doing chores. Children learn and enjoy more this way!
If you have any more advice for getting chores kids to do housework, share them below. I would love to hear them!
photo credit: Pink Sherbet Photography via photopin cc