How to Get Kids To Do Chores?

A woman engages kids in chores by holding a vacuum cleaner.
Dr. Roseann Capanna-Hodge

Dr. Roseann Capanna-Hodge

Getting kids to do a chore regularly can be a gradual process, but it can be achieved with patience, consistency, and a positive approach. Remember, the goal is to instill a sense of responsibility and teamwork rather than making chores feel like a burden. 

“How do I motivate my child to do chores?” It might be one of the top 10 questions that parents ask me. “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 punish kids who don’t do their chores, and there is no doubt there should be consequences for not doing chores, getting kids to do chores is a long game that starts with good communication and a lot of reinforcement.

How Do Chores Teach Responsibility?

Chores serve as a powerful tool for teaching responsibility to children by instilling accountability, time management, and a strong work ethic. When assigned specific chores to do around the house, children learn that their actions have consequences, which fosters a sense of accountability. 

Doing house chores and completing them within designated timeframes helps them develop essential time management skills and emphasizes the importance of prioritizing responsibilities. Additionally, regular engagement in chores around the house cultivates a work ethic by encouraging diligence and the pursuit of excellence in their efforts.

Furthermore, doing household chores contributes to the development of teamwork and problem-solving skills. Children understand the collaborative nature of maintaining a household and learning to work harmoniously with family members. 

Giving your kid chores that require critical thinking, such as finding efficient ways to complete common chores or overcoming obstacles, helps them develop problem-solving abilities. The routine of chores not only establishes a sense of discipline and consistency but also fosters an appreciation for the effort and work involved in contributing to a functional and well-maintained home.

Step-by-step guide on How to Get Kids to Do the Chores Assigned to Them

1. Establish Clear Expectations

Getting Kids to do Chores

Sometimes parents get frustrated when kids don’t help with household chores. 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 than you do, most need chores to be listed with deadlines. It is best to have a chart or list of house chores for kids to do on a whiteboard so everyone knows what to do and by when. 

Clearly define what chores need to be done and communicate the expectations to your kids. Make a list of age-appropriate tasks, and let them know what is expected of them on a daily or weekly basis.

2. Create a Chore Chart

Develop a visual chore chart, or a boss battle chore chart if you want to make it fun, that outlines each child's responsibilities. Household reminders like these can help them see what needs to be done and provide a sense of accomplishment when tasks are completed.

3. Set Realistic Goals

Make sure the chores assigned are realistic for their age and skill level. Setting achievable goals will boost their confidence and motivation. Nagging your kids for not doing chores typically creates chaos. Once you have a clear chore list with deadlines, encourage your kids to do their best. 

Instead of 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. Then adjust the task accordingly. 

4. Make Chores a Routine

Just like most adults, kids crave routines in all areas of their lives. 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. Incorporate chores into their daily routine. Consistency is key to forming habits, and having a set time for chores can make them feel like a natural part of the day. 

5. Lead by Example

Show your kids that everyone in the family contributes. When they see you taking care of your responsibilities, they are more likely to follow suit. One of the best ways to get kids on board with chores is to set family chores time. Put time on your schedule when everyone in the family does their chores. 

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, but it can also be family bonding time and build communication. When you do chores as a family, even the youngest members of the family can participate and start learning those independent skills early.

6. Offer Rewards

Consider implementing a reward system. This could involve earning privileges, screen time, or a small allowance for completing chores consistently. Rewards can motivate kids and make the experience more positive.

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 and doing a chore to earn things, including media time, is a natural way to motivate kids to take action.

7. Make it Fun

A simple household chore turned into a game can create a drastic change in the way kids view their role in helping around the house. Adding an element of fun can make the tasks more enjoyable for children. Chores like emptying the garbage or meal prep are usually the most hated chores. But by adding humor to the mix, it can be fun. 

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 lives by teaching a lesson that having a positive outlook can help you get through anything.

8. Provide the Right Tools

Ensure that your kids have the necessary tools and supplies to complete their chores. Having everything they need readily available makes it easier for them to get the job done, including coping skills

9. Give Them Autonomy

Allow your kids some autonomy in choosing their chores. Giving them a sense of control over their responsibilities can make them more willing to participate. 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 an opportunity for children to learn skills that build independence and confidence. 

10. Praise and Positive Reinforcement

Acknowledge their efforts and praise them for a job well done. Positive reinforcement can build their self-esteem and create a positive association with chores. It also emphasizes problem-solving and helps kids develop skills related to planning, action-taking, attention, and stress management.

11. 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

For example, don’t assign chores for 10-12 year olds to 5-year-old kids. 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 also build confidence to take on harder tasks. 

12. 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. It may mean that they are feeling overwhelmed or may not understand the task. 

Understand how stress shows up in kids and teens. Little tweaks in how you speak to your child can have a dramatic positive effect on how they listen, take action, and feel about themselves. 

What to Say to Kids Doing Chores

Positive and encouraging communication is crucial when addressing kids doing chores. Using the provided statements can further reinforce a positive attitude towards household responsibilities:

1. “I appreciate your help around the house.”

Expressing appreciation reinforces the child's sense of value and importance within the family. It communicates that their contributions, no matter how small, are recognized and play a crucial role in the overall well-being of the household.

2. “Your contribution makes a difference to the family.”

By highlighting the impact of the child's efforts, this statement emphasizes the interconnectedness of family life. It helps the child understand that their actions have a positive influence on the family dynamics. It fosters a sense of belonging and shared responsibility.

3. “Thank you for completing your chores at home on time.”

Offering gratitude for completing chores on time reinforces the concept of punctuality and responsibility. It teaches the child that meeting deadlines and fulfilling commitments are appreciated qualities and lays the foundation for time management skills and reliability.

4. “I'm proud of how responsible you are becoming.”

This statement aims to boost the child's self-esteem by acknowledging their growing sense of responsibility. House chores play a role in reinforcing the positive behavior of taking initiative and fulfilling assigned tasks. They should encourage the child to continue demonstrating responsible behavior in various aspects of their life.

What Not to Say to Your Young Household Helper

What Causes Childhood Sensory Disorders

Avoiding negative language and emphasizing the positive aspects of a child's participation in chores contributes to a healthier and more constructive approach to responsibility. Encouragement and support foster a positive attitude, while negative comments may hinder the child's enthusiasm for household tasks. 

1. “Why can't you do it like your sibling?”

Comparing a child's efforts to those of a sibling can create feelings of inadequacy and competition. It undermines their sense of accomplishment and can lead to a negative perception of chores.

2. “If you don't do your chores, you'll be in trouble.”

Using threats and punishment chores can instill fear and anxiety. It makes chores a source of stress rather than a positive learning experience. This approach may hinder the child's intrinsic motivation to contribute to the family.

3. “I could do it faster and better myself, so I don’t need your help.”

Criticizing the child's efforts by implying that their work is inferior can be demoralizing. It diminishes their sense of competence and discourages them from taking initiative and building essential skills through practice.

4. “Just get it done quickly, it doesn’t matter.”

Dismissing the importance of chores as boring can undermine the value of responsibility. It sends the message that tasks should be completed hastily, neglecting the opportunity for the child to learn the importance of thoroughness and attention to detail.

Why should kids have chores?

Assigning children chores to do at home is widely recognized as beneficial for their development. It fosters responsibility, accountability, and essential life skills. Engaging in household tasks instills a strong work ethic and promotes teamwork, as children contribute to the collective well-being of the family. Participating in chores not only imparts practical skills but also cultivates values that contribute to a child's holistic growth and future independence.

What are good chores for 9-12 year olds?

At the age of 10, children can take on more meaningful responsibilities within the household. Suitable chores for children include room cleaning, laundry tasks, kitchen assistance, outdoor chores, and pet care. This chore list for tweens fosters a sense of responsibility and contributes to a child's development.

What are good chore ideas for kids aged 7 to 8 years old?

Some good 7 to 8 year old chores include room organization, mealtime assistance, laundry responsibilities, pet care, and basic kitchen duties. Involving children in these chores contributes to their development of essential life skills. Providing clear instructions, positive reinforcement, and appropriate supervision ensures a positive and constructive experience for children as they contribute to home responsibilities, reducing the need for household help services.

Define chores for 5 and 6 year olds

Household chores for kids, particularly 5 and 6-year-olds, involve simple tasks such as room cleanup, table setting, laundry assistance, dish drying, pet care, simple cleaning, and setting out clothes. Engaging in these manageable chores for young kids helps them develop a sense of accomplishment and foundational life skills.

How many chores should a child have a day?

The number of chores a child should have per day depends on factors such as their age, maturity level, and the complexity of the tasks. Generally, it's reasonable to start with 2 to 3 easy chores for kids and gradually increase the number as they grow older and more capable. The key is to strike a balance that promotes a sense of responsibility without overwhelming the child and ensuring that the tasks are age-appropriate and manageable.

Why should kids do chores that are age-appropriate?

Assigning age-appropriate chores to kids is crucial for their development as it tailors tasks to their current abilities. It fosters a positive and successful experience, which allows for a gradual progression of skills and builds a foundation for responsibility and work ethic over time. By maintaining interest, preventing overwhelm, and promoting independence, age-appropriate chores contribute to a positive view of responsibilities and help children develop essential life skills.

What would you do for kids who are consistent with their chores?

For children consistently completing chores, express appreciation and provide positive reinforcement to acknowledge their efforts. Foster independence and skill development by gradually introducing more advanced tasks or rotating responsibilities. Ensure a healthy balance between chores and leisure activities, encourage open communication, and celebrate achievements to maintain a positive and sustainable approach to household responsibilities.

Dr. Roseann is a mental health expert in parenting  who frequently is in the media:

Always remember… “Calm Brain, Happy Family™”

Disclaimer: This article is not intended to give health advice and it is recommended to consult with a physician before beginning any new wellness regime. *The effectiveness of diagnosis and treatment vary by patient and condition. Dr. Roseann Capanna-Hodge, LLC does not guarantee certain results.

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