Every parent wants to raise a child who helps out around the house. Who does his chores without reminding or complaining, and even pitches in and helps out with things that aren’t his responsibility. But parent knows that’s a tall order. Just getting your child to finish one chore can be a struggle. It’s hard to stick to your guns when it’s a constant battle, especially when you know you could probably get the task done in less time than you spend prodding your child to do it. But it’s not just about getting the task done. It’s about teaching responsibility, discipline and many other important lessons. So here are some ideas that can help you encourage your child to do chores, and maybe even enjoy them!
Start when he’s young. Parents often don’t ask much of young children because they’re not capable of doing a lot of the real chores that need to get done around the house. However, there is always something a child, even one as young as two years old, can do. He can carry his dirty plate from the table to the counter, pick up his toys or put his dirty clothes in the hamper. He can also help you do things like changing sheets, loading or emptying the dishwasher or dusting tables. The goal isn’t to have the chore done perfectly; it’s to get him engaged in helping around the house. If you find yourself wanting to correct your child’s work, resist the urge. Find a way to be happy that your child is helping out, even if how he does something doesn’t meet your standards of how it needs to be done. There’s nothing more discouraging to a child than investing a lot of effort into doing something only to have an adult correct his work. Remember, you’re instilling your expectation that your child will help out around the house. And he’ll get better over time!
Try to find things your child enjoys. Each of us has some household chores that we just don’t like doing. We may not love any of them, but we definitely can slog through some easier than others. Your child isn’t any different. Finding the things that he enjoys will make him much more cooperative. If he hates folding laundry but loves vacuuming, make him responsible for the vacuuming. Of course you can’t always accommodate his personal preferences. Sometimes he’ll have to do some things he doesn’t like. But when you work with him to make sure he’s happy with his chore list, you’re showing respect for his wants and needs. That’s an important element in working together as a family unit.
Create a chore chart. One of the worst parts of getting kids to do chores is the constant reminding that’s often needed to get them done. You don’t like to feel like a nag and your child doesn’t like to be hounded about what she needs to do. A simple chore chart can make a big difference. Work with your child to create a chart that outlines what she’s responsible for and when each chore needs to be completed. Get your child’s input about what she wants to do and how she can fit those responsibilities into her schedule. You may discover the reason she hasn’t been doing them is easily remedied with some creative problem solving. When kids are part of the decision making process, there’s a much better chance that they’ll follow through on what they’ve promised.
Avoid rewards. Offering your child a reward for getting a chore done can seem like a good incentive. And it will probably work in the short run. However, you don’t want to send the message to your child that he can expect a reward every time he pitches in around the house. Instead, let him know that pitching in and doing his fair share is part of being a member of the family. He’ll learn about responsibility, fairness and community. This lesson will help him at school, on his teams and in his community.
Remember to say thank you! Although you don’t want to reward your child for doing his fair share, you still want to show your appreciation for his hard work. A genuine thank you will let your child know that his help really is important. This acknowledgement is a great builder of self-esteem and feelings of competence.
Getting your child to do his household chores without reminding or nagging can be a challenge. By working with your child, you can come up with a system that works for both of you.