I get numerous messages to my Your Modern Family Facebook page requesting tips on how to teach your kids to do chores without whining and crying. This is definitely a challenging thing to start (once you do it, it won’t be so bad, but the first few weeks are hard).
I know that it is easier to just do it for them (as you can tell from my previous post- STOP doing that for your kids!) but we really aren’t teaching them anything when we do it for them.
I’ve tried it all: bribery, rewards, allowance… Nothing works as well as consistency, so let it be part of their daily routine. The minute that you “let a day slip by” doing their chores for them, is the minute that you have allowed them to think that it is an OPTION. An option to not help. An option to do something else. An option to get out of doing chores. Helping out around the house is not an option. It isn’t an option for me, for my husband or for our kids. We all live here and we all need to take an active part in keeping it clean. (remember- we are raising responsible adults here, not dependent kids that will become dependent adults.)
Here are some ideas to get you started…
- When you are ready to have them do their chores, give them a warning before chore-time starts. A five minute warning is just enough time to let them know that they will have to do chores.
- Set a timer.
Ex: Clean the kitchen for 10 minutes. Or you could even set aside 15 minute intervals of cleaning up time, three-times-a-day. If the chores run long because of attitudes and poor performance then we start to lose outside time, play time, park visits. Ultimately, it’s up to them. Get it done in the time allowed or lose fun time somewhere else.
- Let the kids pick their own chores – we use the chore basket for this.
- Channel your inner-Mary-Poppins when it is time to do chores. No one wants to work for a grouchy boss, right? Your kids don’t want to help a grouchy mom. Be cheerful! “For every job that must be done, there is an element of fun…”
- Make it a contest (the contest is who works the hardest – NOT who is fastest or who is the best, because that is just asking for messiness (things hidden under beds or in closets!) ps- you don’t really have to pick a winner. There can be two, three or four winners if everyone is working hard)
- Give the kids the option of working together. They can combine their chores and work together, helping each other. Our boys do this a lot.
- Give the kids age-appopriate chores.
- Think of chores like brushing teeth. Do it consistently & routinely.
- No need to do reward systems for chores – they are what we do to help our family. If the reward loses its “shine”, you will be back to square one. Plus, they are more work for you!
- Whining/Crying will NEVER get them off the hook. A “day off” can be earned every Sunday by helping out throughout the week.
- Use the WHEN, THEN method. (“WHEN you finish your chores, THEN you get to play outside.” “WHEN you have made your bed, THEN you can play on the tablet.”)
- Whining/Crying = no electronics for the day. (This will be as hard for YOU as it will be for THEM, but it is worth it, if you stick to it. Trust me.)
- Work alongside them a few days a week, so they will understand your level of clean. Show them what you expect from them and do it with them until they understand and do it well.
- Give them a few “staple chores” – the ones that they do as an every day routine. Making their bed is routine. Picking up their clothes is routine.
- Let them know that they are HELPING you, not that you are simply demanding it. Everyone (myself included) likes to know that we are doing something to help someone else, not because we are being forced to do it.
- Praise their efforts and thank them. Be genuine. It freed up some of your time, so thank them and then use that time to do something fun with them!
- Remember that different kids need different methods. One thing may work with one of two, but rarely with all of them… and that’s ok. Find what works for your children.
Oh- and try this tip to teach them to keep their rooms cleaned. Works like a charm!
A way to make chores fun again…
These chores are perfect for your kids…
OH- and we don’t use a chore chart. Here is why…
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