How to Get the Whole Family to Chip in for Chores

dust broom

Chores are a part of life. They keep the household in running order and teach your kids a sense of responsibility. But they’re also typically a point of major contention between parents and their children. That doesn’t mean you should just throw chores out the window, though. When kids push back against chores, it’s even more important to instill a healthy work ethic. That’s why we’ve compiled a few surefire ways to get your children on board with chores—minimal nagging necessary:

  • Offer incentives. The concept of an allowance is nothing new, but money isn’t the only motivator that might work for your kids. Promise them more creative rewards for their efforts, like an extra hour to play at the park or a special visit to the community pool. Use whatever motivates your kids to get them to complete their chores, but never turn chores into punishment. If you use chores to punish, it might be difficult to remove the negative connotations associated with work.
  • Make chores fun. Chores don’t have to be drudgery. With a little imagination, they can actually be fun. For instance, transform dinner prep into your little chef’s time to play in the kitchen by allowing him to choose which side dish he’d like to help make from two healthy options. You can also let him help put together a playlist for while you’re whipping up the meal. Music, in fact, can jazz up almost any task. Tell kids you’ll time them to see how long it takes to dust a set of shelves or grab the trash from their room, and reward them if they beat their personal record.
  • Assign age-appropriate tasks. If you have a toddler or preschooler, they aren’t going to offer much in the way of muscle. However, that doesn’t mean you should let them sit on the couch while older siblings complete their chores. It’s important to teach kids how to pitch in from a young age, so give them simple tasks so that they feel included.
  • Gradually increase the responsibility. As your children age, they’ll be able to take on more and more responsibility, but don’t overdo it. Gradually add a task or two every year or so and subtly up the level of difficulty.
  • Keep kids engaged. This should happen naturally if you’re following the previous tip. It may seem like assigning easier tasks would result in less backlash from your youngsters, but you actually might find that they complain and drag their feet more when chores bore them. Make sure responsibilities are just challenging enough to engage your kids intellectually, but not so challenging that they incite frustration. For example, for a young child, you could let them try to clean the hamster cage all alone instead of assisting them—but step in when necessary.
  • Suggest, don’t demand. Just the way you phrase a chore assignment can affect how it’s received. Instead of telling your children to get to work, try requesting their help. “Please” and “thank you” are expected from them, so return the favor.

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