Chores. Nobody loves them, but they gotta get done.
Adults know this, but kids often don’t.
We all know that different kids need different motivations and incentives, so it’s often not as simple as putting down one system for all the kids in the house, especially when the ages are very different.
We just want to offer a few different ways to get the kids in your house more involved with chores on a regular basis.
Start with Why
To start, you should make sure that kids understand that no one loves to do chores (okay, MaidThis people definitely love to) but that they need to get done so the home can function. The longer they get put off, the bigger problems that can happen.
Parents need to make sure that they set clear expectations and are consistent in enforcing that chores get done in order to make this a regular habit that kids can get into.
- Set Time Limits
Sometimes, intentionally or no, kids will take forever on a given chore. Give them a set amount of time to do dishes, with rewards for finishing earlier. For example, if you tell them dishes need to be done in 20 minutes, but if they get done in 15, they can have a bit more playtime or sleep a little later, there’s an incentive for them to work effectively.
- Use a Structure
Whether you use a chore chart or have a specific day of the week or time of the day that chores get done, stay consistent.
One mentality that can be conveyed by a clear structure is that “once your responsibilities are handled you’re free to do what you want/need to do.”
- Be Age-Conscious
Don’t be afraid of starting kids too young: they can definitely make a game of picking things up and putting them away.
Older kids can take on the more challenging/difficult tasks as a “reward” for getting older. “Now that you’re older, I can trust you to do…” or “You’re old enough now to be responsible for…”
- Allow for Negotiation
Now there are days when kids might not be feeling well or older kids might need maximum time for a school project. Be open to negotiating or accommodating as needed. Just don’t let the exceptions become a rule!
- Use Financial Incentives
If you are already giving an allowance to your child, there could be a small string attached that a portion of the allowance is forfeited if chores are not done on time, satisfactorily.
- Use Rewards
A variation on the financial incentive practice is to set up a chart with gold stars, etc. which will really appeal to children who are motivated by rewards. Keep in mind that the rewards should be for above-and-beyond work, for example, an exceptionally clean room or for a task done well in a short amount of time.
Remember not to use chores as punishment. This can create a negative feedback loop in the medium and long term which associates chores with something bad, when they are really neutral to positive: something that has to be done for the collective good.
Finally, don’t forget to say thank you. Just because someone’s doing their duties doesn’t mean he/she doesn’t deserve a simple thanks. Give it and show your appreciation that they are slowly joining the world of adults.
This content originally appeared in our monthly Open Calendar Club newsletter.