“How do I motivate my child to do chores? Might be one of the top 10 questions that parents ask me. and , “What do I do when my kid refuses to do chores” is also a question that I am frequently asked because to the annoyance of parents, many kids try to avoid them. While we often rush to punishing kids who don’t do their chores, and there is no doubt there should be consequences, getting kids to do chores is really a long game that starts with good communication and a lot of reinforcement.
Parent Tips for Getting Kids to Do Chores
Set up a Routine
Kids crave routines in all areas of their lives. Heck, so do adults. When we make a routine around chores, expectations are clear and it sets a child up to take independent action. Without chore routines, kids rely on adults to cue them to do the task and that creates frustration on both parts.
Tie Chores to Earned Media Time
Guess what in the real world, you have to earn your way to fun stuff. With the non-stop stimulation of technology and media, kids have come to expect constant stimulation and don’t want to do “boring stuff”. When it comes to teaching kids the importance of hard work, doing chores to earn things, including media time, is a natural way to motivate kids to take action.
Be Clear About Expectations
Sometimes parents get frustrated when kids don’t help out more around the house but if expectations aren’t clear, then kids don’t know what to take action on. While some kids and teens have more of an internal compass like you do, most need chores to be clearly listed with deadlines. It is best to have a chart or list chores on a white board so everyone knows what to do and by when.
Give kids a list of chores and allow them to choose what they would like to do. When children are allowed to make their own choices, it is not only empowering but a confidence builder. Children doing chores is a way to help parents out at home and really an opportunity for children to learn skills that build independence and confidence.
Have Family Chore Time
One of the best ways to get kids on board with chores is to set family chore time. Put time on your schedule where everyone in the family does their chores together. Have everyone pick from a list of chores and divvy up what needs to be done. Not only do kids benefit from parent role modeling, it can be family bonding time and build communication. And when you do chores as a family, even the youngest members of the family can participate and start learning those independent skills early.
Make it Fun
While chores like emptying the garbage or meal prep may not exactly be fun, by adding music and humor to the mix, it can be. Crank up the music and make a game out of chores. Have a contest with little prizes for whoever finishes first. For all kids, it builds those skills that help them in every aspect of their life by teaching a lesson that having a positive outlook can help you get through anything.
Don’t Nag Your Kids Into Chores
Once you have a clear chore list with deadlines, encourage your kid to do the best they can. Positive reinforcement with an emphasis on problem solving helps kids develop skills related to planning, action taking, attention, and stress management. When you are nagging your kids about their chores, think about where the breakdown is and ask yourself “ Is it a lack of clear expectations?, or “Maybe the task is too hard” and adjust the task accordingly.
Think About Developmental Expectations
Not all tasks are developmentally appropriate. Kids of all ages may not understand the steps to complete the tasks and what is a simple task for us may need to be broken down for your child. When we focus on what kids can do, they build self-confidence and communication skills. By approaching tasks from a developmental perspective, we know that we are giving kids tasks that they can do to not only feel good about themselves but build confidence to take on harder tasks.
Watch for Signs of Stress
Some kids avoid tasks because they might be experiencing a period of stress or lack coping skills. Signs and symptoms of chronic stress or anxiety should never be ignored. Download my free checklist, Is It Stress or Anxiety? to understand how stress shows up in kids and teens. For ways to increase your child’s coping skills, download my free 100 statements to help your child learn to cope with stress. Little tweaks in how you speak to your child can have a dramatic positive effect in how they listen, take action, and feel about themselves.
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Dr. Roseann is a Children’s Mental Health Expert and Therapist who is regularly featured on media outlets including, CBS, NBC, FOX News, PIX11 NYC, The New York Times, FORBES, Business Insider, USA Today, CNET, Marth Stewart, and PARENTS.
She is the founder and director of The Global Institute of Children’s Mental Health and Dr. Roseann Capanna-Hodge. Dr. Roseann is a Board Certified Neurofeedback (BCN) Practitioner, a Board Member of the Northeast Region Biofeedback Society (NRBS), Certified Integrative Medicine Mental Health Provider (CMHIMP) and an Amen Clinic Certified Brain Health Coach. She is also a member of The International Lyme Disease and Associated Disease Society (ILADS), The American Psychological Association (APA), Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA) National Association of School Psychologists (NASP), International OCD Foundation (IOCDF) International Society for Neurofeedback and Research (ISNR) and The Association of Applied Psychophysiology and Biofeedback (AAPB).
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