When you first assign chores for kids, it will certainly be more work for parents than if you were completing the tasks yourself. Having a 2 or 3-year-old helping out with the laundry definitely has a tendency to slow you down!
When our sons first started wanting to help out around the house, they wanted to help with everything! I remember having to hide my frustration to be moving more quickly. Instructing children on completing tasks certainly does take up more of your time. But the payoff is huge!
Fast forward a few years and we had young sons who were able to do an entire load of laundry, weed a garden, vacuum, dust and a myriad of other tasks with minimal supervision and I was able to get twice as much done with their help.
If your children are a little bit older and you’re just getting around to assigning chores to them, they will probably put up some resistance to the whole process. But do not get discouraged. It’s never too late to teach your children to appreciate contributing to the good of the family.
Here are some tips for getting started with assigning chores for kids:
1 – Break it down
When teaching chores, parents should break each one down into small parts and give specific instructions. For example, instead of telling a child to clean his bedroom and leaving it at that, parents should list all of the things that make up the chore of cleaning the bedroom, for example, changing the sheets, picking up toys and putting them away, dusting the dresser, and vacuuming. Parents should then show their children how to do each part of the chore correctly.
2 – Don’t do it yourself
Parents should not do their children’s work for them. If parents get frustrated and give in and do their children’s chores, they learn a number of things. First of all, they learn that their parents don’t mean what they say and will not follow through. Secondly, children learn that if they hold out long enough someone will do their chores for them.
3 – Don’t redo the chore
Redoing a job is the quickest way to lose help. Just keep in mind that you need to explain the job more clearly next time, or maybe hes not ready yet. If you absolutely cant live with the way the chore was completed, use it as a teaching opportunity to show your child how you would like the job done. The other option is to take care of it when you are certain the child won’t catch you.
4 – Don’t hover
If the cat’s tail is getting caught in the vacuum then, by all means, jump in. If the situation isn’t that drastic, however, try to allow your child the chance to do it on his own.
5 – Don’t nag
When your youngster does not complete his chores and other responsibilities, it may be necessary to discipline him. For example, you might decide to revoke certain privileges or special activities that mean a lot to him. Although some parents may feel that badgering or scolding a child to the point of starting an argument will get him to accept more responsibility, this approach is rarely effective. Rewarding successes and providing encouragement is always much more effective. When punishment is necessary, allowing natural consequences to occur is always preferable to external consequences. Also, you might want to create a responsibility chart to help your child track their own progress.
6 – Explain why
Children need to know why pitching in and helping is important. Parents should explain that doing chores benefits the whole family and that every person must do his or her part to keep things going smoothly.
7 – Give choices
Children complain about jobs that are assigned. Involve your child in picking chores and setting the time when the job must be done. Today we must vacuum, do the laundry, clean out the refrigerator and wash windows. Where do you want to start? Allowing your child to make choices will help to break down some of the resistance you might be experiencing.
8 – Let them enjoy
Children need to enjoy the sense of accomplishment that goes along with completing a task. This sense of satisfaction and feeling that they are contributing to the family is going to keep them working with you as they get older. Research shows feelings of satisfaction and contribution are much greater motivators than pay, praise or punishment!
9 – Make it easy
If your child is supposed to set the table, can he reach the dishes? Are the dishes breakable? Be sure the child can do the job with ease, according to size and developmental stage.
10 – Make it age appropriate
The level of expected chores should be appropriate to the child’s skill and ability. But even for very young children, helping around the house allows a child to feel like a vital part of the family.
11 – Make the job important
Children feel rewarded by completing work that is actually beneficial. Let your child know how much his effort has helped the family. Even little tasks help! Be sure your child knows how much of a difference his work has made.
12 – Provide logical consequences
Logical consequences occur naturally as a result of children’s actions. For example, if a child repeatedly forgets to put his bike away at the end of the day, a logical consequence would be not being allowed to use the bicycle for a few days. On the other hand, a logical consequence for a child who repeatedly works hard and completes his chores would be to be given special play time. Parents and children should decide on the consequences in advance. Parents should always follow through on applying consequences, whether they are positive or negative.
13 – Show appreciation
No one likes to be taken for granted. No matter how rewarding the sense of accomplishment may be it is good to hear, “Thank you.” Adding a specific comment like, “I appreciate how neatly you folded the towels,” may mean more than just saying, “Good job.”
14 – Show them how
Children need to know exactly what’s expected of them. Therefore, it is a good idea for parents to make sure their children know exactly what their duties are. Parents should thoroughly go over the duties required, and should actually show their children how to do the chore at hand. It might also be a good idea to write down and post all duties that make up a single chore for children’s reference. At first, parents should monitor their children to make sure things are going well. Parents can reduce monitoring once children know how to do the chore. But it’s always a good idea to spot check to be sure your kids are continuing to do the tasks you have assigned.
15 – Start early
Ideally, parents should start giving their children household responsibilities when they are young. Most toddlers love to help their parents. Parents should take advantage of this desire and give their children small and simple tasks. As children get older, they should then be given more challenging tasks.
16 – Stick to a routine
Your child may be greatly helped in remembering to do chores if your family life has structure and routines. Encourage him to do his chores at the same time each day. Routines of other activities including meals, homework, play, and bedtime also can teach organization and help him develop responsibility. Make a chore chart to help your child remember what they need to complete during that day.
17 – Switch chores
Try switching tasks or coming up with ideas to keep the interest and enthusiasm. It’s hard to get excited about something youve done a thousand times!
18 – Teach one chore
It is probably a good idea for parents to thoroughly teach their children how to do one chore, and then to make sure that they are consistently doing it correctly before moving on to other chores. Young children can become confused when they are required to learn too much at one time.
19 – Work side by side
At different ages, children need different levels of help and support while doing their chores. Parents should work side-by-side with young children, washing the dishes as the child clears plates from the dinner table, for example. The more you do with them when they’re young, the more they can do by themselves later. Plus, it’s always more fun to do things with a buddy!
If handled correctly, chores for kids should really help your household to run more smoothly. In time, it will also help your children to learn responsibility and will prepare them to successfully take care of themselves once they are living on their own. Give it a try and watch your workload begin to lighten!
I’ve written extensively about CHORES on my blog. You may also be interested in reading these posts to help you get started or to work out the kinks in your family’s chore system:
- FREE Printable & Editable Age Appropriate Chores List
- 10 Simple Chore Tips that will Transform Your Family
- Rewards for Kids – Offer Rewards and Watch their Motivation Soar
Question: What has your experience been in having your kids do chores? What has worked for your family? What hasn’t worked? Please leave a comment below.
And please check out the other great posts about Teaching Responsibility from other iHN bloggers at iHomeschool Network.