Chores are boring, plain and simple. Not many people enjoy doing them, however, there are always those few exceptions that apply. But overall, chores tend to be a daily drag and a hassle that need to get done in order to move on to something else.
Now if this is how most adults feel about chores then you can imagine what doing chores may feel like for kids. Children have agendas of their own and things that they would much rather do (and enjoy) than help around the house.
Having said that, getting kids to do chores is actually so much more than just getting much needed help. In fact, chores are early life lessons that can later develop into important life skills. But since chores are considered arduous and unpleasant by default, parents need to figure out ways to make them fun and enjoyable so that kids become more eager to do their part.
But before you do that, it’s important to get the basics right. Here are a few ways to help you do just that:
Talk to your kids
For starters, don’t just expect kids to start doing chores right away when told. A better approach may be to talk to them about the importance of doing chores as a team.
And though kids may be kids, they do listen when you sit them down to talk about something. Younger kids, in particular, want to help so it’s great to be able to take advantage of their natural enthusiasm while encouraging them at the same time.
Listen to your kids
Kids may not get equally hyped about every chore so give them a choice. Remember that younger kids have shorter attention spans so if they say they’re bored they actually may be so. Or it may be that the chore is too difficult for them and they have trouble handling it.
If you see telltale signs of boredom or difficulty, come up with an alternative to keep them engaged.
Start off small
This is very important to keep things going. If a chore appears too big or staggering at the start, chances are that your little one will become overwhelmed.
It’s easy for young kids to get hazed when they can’t figure out where to start. Instead break down the chore for them into steps. Rather than tell them to clean up their room, they may work better with more specific instructions like putting away the toys first. Then move on to their books and eventually clothes.
Make chores fun
Another tip is to choose age appropriate chores that they can manage by themselves. For the younger ones, you may even turn it into a game or competition to make it more fun. Think pairing up socks after laundry and turning it into a race. Or whoever gets the table to shine better wins.
Here it is important to remember that that while kids may not necessarily understand work, they do understand play very well. And making chores “play” can be the easiest way of getting younger kids excited about getting simple tasks done.
Throw in some background music to get them even more motivated. Plus, little kids love it when you are involved in the task as well. In the beginning, it gives them a chance to spend time with you and the work gets done faster as well. With time, they can learn to become more independent and handle the work load on their own.
Switch up routines
Just as you want to switch up your routine to escape monotony, you need to do the same for your kids’ chores as well. To prevent boredom, swap their chores regularly. For instance, if they’ve been responsible for clearing the table the first week, have them wipe the dishes the next or sweep the floor instead.
Don’t cramp their style
If your kid is willing to help you at home, consider yourself lucky and make the best of it. This means getting used to a little imperfection and letting them do the work as best as they can.
If at first your young one doesn’t get it right or makes a mess, just remember that it’s the effort which is important and not so much the result. The point is to instill good habits and get them to pitch in. Avoid redoing the work, especially in front of them since it implies that their efforts were not good enough.
Finding age appropriate chores and rewards
Little ones like preschoolers can be trained to pick up after themselves. Engage them in tasks like picking up their toys, putting their dishes away or piling up books and magazines.
This age group responds well to rewards like sticker charts where a sticker of their choice can be incentive enough for getting things done.
School age kids
This group can handle a little more responsibility which still involves picking up after themselves. But now they are old enough to put their shoes and backpacks away when they return back from school.
They can also start making their bed, setting the table or putting away groceries. Since they may be too old for sticker rewards, verbal praise and lots of encouragement can work well here. For those who still like their stickers, you could let them collect stickers till the end of the week where they get to choose a family activity for everyone to do.
By this stage, chores like cleaning their room, doing the dishes or taking out garbage should not be paired with any reward system. In fact, rewarding will probably need to be redefined here.
Some parents are okay with letting tweens help around the house for an allowance, but if you don’t want to pay your child real money, you can opt for a token system instead. Let your tween earn tokens that are exchanged for outings with friends or time with electronics.
Chores assigned to this age group will prepare them for the real world. This lot can easily handle tasks like meal preparation, lawn mowing, cleaning the bathroom or doing laundry.
Giving an allowance may also make more sense here since it’s not only a monetary reward but also a way to teach them money management.
Although you can’t really expect kids to put chores as a top priority, having them help around the house will over time help them turn chores into lifelong habits.
When kids get used to doing their household chores, they start to take pride in what they do which comes not only with a sense of achievement but also self-reliance. In short, it sets a pattern that will benefit them when they start to lead independent lives.