How to encourage your child to help out around the house with chores without whining and complaining.
Giving your child chores, no matter how little they are, can be one of the most important things you can do as a parent, but it can be challenging to come up with a gentle way to introduce chores to kids.
The big question is, should kids have chores to do when household work should be the responsibility of the parent?
I’m all for kids being kids and playing to their heart’s content in the backyard all summer long, but there is a part of me, as a mother, that needs to make sure they get their pplaytime and learn responsibility.
Imagine you were living in a third-world country without indoor entertainment, not even board games and plastic toys. What would your children do all day?
They would help you with the housework, without being asked, and without complaining. There was a study completed about children in Maya that have nothing, yet are the happiest children and are super proud to help their mothers with laundry and housework.
So how can you encourage your children to help around the home when they are surrounded by lots of fun distractions? You introduce chores slowly, and you make it fun!
See also: How To Raise Responsible Kids
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List Of Kids Chores
Children in different stages of life can complete different chores around the house. Please refer to this chart for a complete list of chores your kids can start helping out with.
Remember to introduce the chores slowly, one at a time is fine. Let them master one task so they can be proud of it, then introduce another. Once you have a handful of tasks they can complete on their own, you can create a chart and a more advanced reward system if you like.
Chore Amount for each age group Per Day
- The 3 and 4-year-old should do 1 chore
- A 5-6-year-old should do 2 chores
- A 7-8-year-old should do 2 to 3 chores
- Ages 9 & up should do 3 chores
Toddlers (Ages 18 months to 3 years old)
Even toddlers are capable of doing simple household duties. When children are young, they are less likely to argue about completing tasks as they get older and begin to challenge limits. Toddlers are also at an age where one of the most exciting things they can do is assist their parents, caregivers, or older siblings. This is due to toddlers’ proclivity for “copying.” They learn the majority of what they know about the world by watching others and then imitating their activities.
It’s crucial to remember that toddlers will require supervision and assistance with their jobs, but by the time they reach preschool, they should be able to accomplish certain activities independently. The following are some examples of chores that toddlers can perform:
- Put All Toys Back In Place When Finished Playing
- Put Dirty Clothing Into Hamper
- Put Dishes Into The Kitchen (If cannot reach the sink) When Finished Meal
- Fold Their Own Underwear and Socks
- Help Fold Towels
- Put Clothes Into Drawers
- Wipe Floors With Cloth
- Wipe Walls With Cloth
- Spray Windows So You Can Wipe Them
- Put Away Groceries Into Fridge
Preschool, Kindergarten, Grade 1 (3-6 years old)
Because they are still learning by emulating their elders, preschoolers still have the same motivation to assist their parents. There are also certain chores that children may accomplish without supervision at this age.
These are usually the ones they started performing when they were toddlers, however there may be one or two new ones that they are naturally gifted at. Preschoolers have begun to grasp the abilities required to execute activities without supervision, which is the cause of their increasing incapacity.
Their ability to follow more complicated directions will have improved, as will their hand-eye coordination. Preschoolers may be able to retain and follow directions up to two or three stages at a time, but toddlers need to be informed each specific step involved with an activity.
- Feed Pets
- Make Bed
- Choose Clothing Night Before
- Unpack Groceries
- Dry Dishes
- Pick Up Random Garbage Around The House
- Sweep / Mop
- Match Socks
- Pull Weeds
- Wash Plastic Dishes
- Clear The Table
Elementary School Ages (6-9 years old)
- Fold Own Laundry
- Take Out Garbage
- Pack Lunch
- Organize Bookshelves
- Sweep / Mop
- Clean Up After Themselves
- Simple Laundry
- Tidy Up Entryways and Closets
- All The Dishes (Wash and Dry)
- Grab The Mail
- Sweep Porch
- Clean The Car (Inside and Out)
- Clean Bedroom
- Wipe Down Dinner Table
- Load Dishwasher
- Walk The Dog
- Empty The Garbage
Middle School (10-13)
Many things can be completed by preteens or middle schoolers on their own, and they may be held accountable for them without frequent reminders.
Many families opt to make a chore schedule or job list for their children at this age. Then, parents may keep the child accountable and check only once a day to ensure that everything on the list or chart has been completed.
This teaches youngsters not just self-reliance, but also how to take care of themselves while no one is looking. Children between the ages of 10 and 13 should be able to perform all of the duties described in the sections above for lower ages, as well as the following chores:
- Wash The Dishes
- Wash The Car
- Help With Dinner Prep
- Wash Clothes
- Dry Clothes
- Fold Clothes
- Take Out Trash Bins
- Babysit Siblings
Young Adults (12-18 years old)
By the time your child enters high school, he or she will be able to perform practically all of the home chores that you can.
This is an excellent age to begin ensuring that your child is properly prepared for the possibility of living on their own, since those years are rapidly approaching. This isn’t to suggest that all children leave the nest at the age of eighteen.
Indeed, due to growing living costs and heavy student loan burdens, more children are choosing to live at home while attending college or saving for a home than in previous years. Children can, however, continue to work around the house past the age of eighteen if they stay at home longer.
- Meal Prep
- Sweep / Mop / Vacuum
- Tidy Up All Rooms
- Clean The Car
- Clean Up Computer Files (Update Antivirus, sort photos)
- Sort Closets
- Wash Walls, Doors and Light Switches
- Make Bed
- Wash Bedding
- Pick Up After Siblings
- Drive Siblings Around
- Pick Up Groceries
- Clean Bathroom
- Clean Entire Kitchen (Not JUST Dishes)
- Sort Tupperware
Getting Children Involved In Household Chores
I love having a clean home, don’t you? A clean home makes me feel happier and calmer overall. Mess is a huge trigger for me and I’m not my best self when the house is a disaster. Unfortunately with a large family, it is difficult to get all of the housework done by myself. Here is where the kids come in.
Even toddlers can help out with household chores. Toddlers absolutely love to mimic parents and older siblings so they are the perfect age to start introducing chores too. This eager attitude will not always stick around, so catch it while you can.
Attach positive feelings to all the chores the kids do around the home so that they get excited about the chores. Feeling appreciated is very important.
Another way to get kids excited about chores is to Introduce the idea of chores one step at a time. Tasks such as cleaning up their own mess are good starting points! You can encourage your child to wash their cup after they finish their drink, or place it into the dishwasher if you have one. You can also encourage your child to tidy up their playset when they have finished playing with it before they move onto another task.
Once your kids are pretty good at one task, such as cleaning up their mess, you can introduce another task such as making the bed.
It’s best to avoid overwhelming the kids with a whole list of chores do at once. If your child becomes overwhelmed, you’ll most likely get a lot of anger and resentment towards the chores discussions for the rest of the time. There is no rush to teach children the responsibility for chores, but you should start at a young age so that the task is easier.
The chores which your children do should also be age-appropriate. Giving a young child a chore that they cannot complete on their own will lead to overwhelm and a tantrum. However, giving them a chore they can’t do on their own and then helping them with the chore will lead to a good time and a positive experience! It’s all about how you approach the situation. It requires a small mindset shift and a little bit of patience with yourself.
For example, I taught my five-year-old how to replace the garbage bag in the garbage bin because he heard me complain once that no one in the house replaces the garbage bag and that’s really annoying! So he said mom I want to help, teach me how to do it. I showed him how it’s done and he is so proud of himself! It’s amazing, and now whenever the garbage bin lacks a bag and he notices, he gets one and puts it in.
How to Motivate Children to Perform Chores
Get started Toddlers like assisting. Sure, they throw tantrums, and their attempts to “assist” might be ineffective.
(If you let a child help you fold laundry, you’ll understand what I mean.)
They are, nevertheless, inherently beneficial. And capitalizing on that will pay out handsomely.
Toddlers who help outgrow into helpful children’s who don’t grumble and don’t need to be prompted to perform chores, according to research.
And they don’t need any incentives to do so. In fact, a study of toddlers revealed that not only did they stop playing to assist an adult, but also the benefits they received made them less eager to assist again.
Toddlers simply want to be useful.
Here are three ideas for including toddlers in household chores:
Begin with small chores (throw away trash, fold washcloths, pick up floor)
Include them in your plans and be patient, but don’t be too hard on yourself if the ship has sailed. Don’t despair if you’re reading this and thinking, “Great, another way I’ve screwed up my kid.”
Even though your child is no longer a toddler, they may acquire all of the skills and get all of the advantages. It could just take more work from you and more whining from them.
But, regardless of how you slice it, the ideal moment to get started is RIGHT NOW.
Breaking down larger jobs helps children’s stay motivated and gain confidence while doing chores. They will be able to master tiny talents one at a time in this manner.
Consider the following scenario:
- Rather than asking a child to clean a soiled floor, ask them to simply pick up the garbage. Then it’s time for the toys.
- Start emptying the dishwasher with a kid by sorting and putting away silverware. Add cups once they’ve mastered that.
- Folding washcloths and hand towels is an easy way for a child to begin doing laundry. Then there’s the matching socks. Then it was time to separate the clothing by color.
- Your child will be pleased of their accomplishments as they master each tiny job. This boosts confidence and motivates people to volunteer and acquire new skills.
Collaboration Is Key
Working on domestic duties together, side by side, not only promotes work ethic, but it also fosters a team-like attitude in the home. It has the potential to improve your relationship with your children.
Include Children In Your Day
While it’s tempting to dismiss children’s duties as unimportant, engaging them in our daily activities makes them feel important and valuable, and eventually teaches them to be helpful.
It is true that involving your child requires more work than doing it on your lonesome. However, I’ve discovered that shifting my mentality from “I’m in a rush and I’ll just do everything myself” to “how can I include my kids” has resulted in significant changes.
To begin with, my children are typically eager to participate in whatever I’m doing, whether it’s washing dishes or folding laundry. They used to be irritated by housework, but now they are eager to acquire new abilities.
Second, it has helped to deepen our bonds. They start chatting about their day and asking the “big questions” whether we’re preparing supper together or splitting up the laundry.
When it comes to keeping children engaged, praise is the best motivator. It’s not about toys or money. Praise and encouragement will also help your children stay motivated with tasks.
Particularly precise praise motivates work and allows them to see the impact of their assistance.
Instead of the generic “Good job,” say “That is really helpful.” When it’s time to eat, you’re putting away the silverware so we can have clean spoons and forks!”
For children, understanding the immediate consequences of their behavior is extremely motivating. They want to know that they are making an impact!
Set a Timer
Setting a timer encourages children by imposing a deadline. They are instantly motivated to begin moving when they notice a countdown timer.
It also makes tasks more enjoyable by gamifying them. You might attempt to “beat the clock.”
We frequently use the timer to tidy up the bedroom before going to bed. We’ve discovered that by using a timer, our kids can do tasks that would usually take 15 minutes in 5 minutes.
Children feel more in control when they have options. While certain jobs will be unavoidable (such as cleaning up after themselves), provide options for extra work.
They will be more driven to finish the work they have selected if they have some autonomy.
Assign Important Jobs
Children enjoy feeling valued and that their actions count. Giving kids make-believe duties (i.e. chores made up to keep them occupied) can backfire spectacularly.
Children are motivated to do tasks when they can see the results of their efforts. Knowing that what they’re doing is actually helping others.
When children see a clean floor after cleaning up a mess with a hand broom or see a stack of nicely folded dishtowels, they feel proud.
Assign real-life responsibilities to your children that are critical to the smooth operation of your household.
Make It Enjoyable
Children’s attitudes about chores alter dramatically when they connect joy and happiness with them. Here are some suggestions for making tasks enjoyable:
Play cheerful music: We have a particular cleaning mix at our place that is full of full-throttle tunes that drive our cleaning-dance party. We had a good time, and it makes kids happy and active!
Use chore charts: Chore charts are a big hit with my kids. They make each children’s tasks unique and special.
Make it a contest: You may do small things to make cleaning a game, such as establishing a timer. You may compete to pick up legos or dump things in the garbage from afar. Make cleaning a game by using your creativity.
Give it A Purpose
Kids, like adults, want to feel important in what they do. They want to know that their efforts are making a difference. The way we talk about tasks influences how kids see them.
For instance, we might discuss how:
- We have clean clothing to wear since we helped with the laundry.
- We have everything we need to have a meal when we set the table.
- Keeping the floor clean prevents us from tripping over objects, stepping on them, or breaking them.
- Cleaning the house in preparation for a visitor entails making it feel warm and inviting.
- We will be able to eat since we assisted in the preparation of supper.
- Taking away the garbage ensures that the house remains clean and odor-free
I believe that talking about how the house feels when it’s clean versus when it’s unclean is really beneficial.
For example, my husband had a very difficult day at work a few weeks ago. And about 45 minutes before I was to return home, I took a peek around and realized that our house was in shambles.
After a long day at school, my children were weary and irritable.
Rather than acting on my natural tendency to badger my kids to clean up the house, I framed it as a goal to make dad pleased at the end of the day.
I collected the children and informed them that their father was having a difficult time. After that, I invited them to have a look about the home.
“How do you think Dad will react when he returns home and sees the house in this condition?”
“This isn’t good.”
“Can you imagine how he’d feel if it was spotless?”
They burst up laughing, exclaiming that he’d be overjoyed and that it would make their house seem so much better.
They cheerfully set out on a quest to create a nice, relaxed environment for their father. We put up their favorite happy music and got to work cleaning up the floor, wiping surfaces, sweeping, and vacuuming.
When their father returned home, they were ecstatic with the work they had accomplished.
Allow Them In The Kitchen
This has the dual benefit of teaching children how to make meals while also assisting them in becoming healthier eaters. Children who assist in the preparation of food are more likely to consume it, according to research.
Children can begin as early as the age of two by just watching you in the kitchen. Then people might begin to participate by:
- Ingredients should be counted (like scoops of flour or eggs)
- In a mixing dish, combine all of the ingredients.
- Foods are measured out
- Fruits and vegetables should be rinsed before eating.
- Ingredients should be counted (like scoops of flour or eggs)
- Spread butter or jam on toast.
- Crack an egg
- Use a plastic knife to cut delicate fruits and vegetables.
Making housework a regular part of the routine requires consistency. Otherwise, if tasks are started and stopped frequently, children will learn that chores are unimportant and will not be enforced.
They will soon get on board if it is made clear that duties are just how your household operates.
If you’re not ready to roll out a full-fledged chore system yet, start with a few simple guidelines. Consider the following scenario:
- There will be no screen time until the bedrooms have been cleaned and the schoolwork has been completed.
- Everyone works together for 10 minutes every evening before bed to tidy up.
- At mealtimes, everyone chips in to help prepare the table and clean up.
- Begin with one or two simple rules.
Importance Of Chores For Kids
Even though it can be difficult to get children to participate in chores, they really benefit from the task.
Children need to learn at a young age that life comes with a lot of responsibilities if basic skills are taught at a young age, it will be easier to adjust to the shock of young adulthood.
Higher Self Esteem
Children who participate in household chores tend to have higher self-esteem.
They feel accomplished after completing a chore leading to feelings of pride and importance in their family role. This kind of feeling can help children feel more connected to the family.
Responsibility and Self Discipline
Children who share the responsibilities of chores are often more responsible in other areas of life as well. The sense of accomplishment for completing a chore on time can give enough encouragement so that the child feels good about the contribution they just made to the family and will likely be less reluctant to do it again next time.
Improvement In Gross And Fine Motor Skills
With so many opportunities for even the smallest children to participate in chores, from measuring flour for their favorite cookies to raking the garden, they really get the chance to exercise their motor skills.
Simple things like counting potatoes for dinner and adding 3 cups of flour into a bowl help with learning important math skills as well.
Working Well With Others
Children who participate in chores often learn to work well with others. Even if you have one child, you can do the chores together and trade-off certain tasks in the chore such as holding the dustpan while the child sweeps the dirt in.
If you have more than one child, the kids can work together to complete chores.
Knowledge Of Delayed Gratification
It’s important for children to learn the importance of delayed gratification. In life, we do not often get rewarded immediately (if at all) for the good things we do.
Giving children a reward at the end of the week in the form of money or other treats teaches children that rewards are often not immediate. Remember that rewards do not have to be in the form of money or treats, they can be in the form of time as well.
Time with Daddy at the movies, or an extra special family game night.
Do You Need Chore Charts?
You do not need a chore chart if you don’t want to use one! I find them helpful personally, but it’s completely up to you. Here are some good options to choose from.
Frequently Asked Questions
How Often Should Kids Do A Chore?
Kid should get into the habit of doing chores on a daily basis. Cutting down on the screen time should give more opportunities for chore time!
What are the top 10 chores?
The most common chores for kids include:
1. Cleaning The Room
3. Loading Groceries
4. Feeding Pets
5. Doing Laundry
6. Preparing Meal
7. Cleaning Bathrooms
9. Packing Lunch
10. unloading The Dishwasher
What chores should be done daily?
Making The Bed
Washing the Dishes
Taking Out The Garbage
Cleaning Up Spills
How many chores should a child have?
The 3 and 4-year-old should do 1 chore
A 5-6-year-old should do 2 chores
A 7-8-year-old should do 2 to 3 chores
Ages 9 & up should do 3 chores
Why Your Kids Need Chores
According to a University of Minnesota research, young adults’ participation in household duties when they were three or four years old was the strongest predictor of their performance in their 20s.
Your children, in fact, require chores.
And, while teaching children duties is no simple task, it is well worth the time and effort. Because teaching your children duties now can help them have a happier and more successful life later on.
So let’s get started on how to encourage kids to complete chores without whining!
Enjoy these ideas of how your kids can help you around the home. Personally, I wouldn’t go crazy and add all of these to their roster, but a few here and there and for have a couple on the back burner for when they need extra credit chores. There is always a new skateboard or a pair of fancy chores that kids NEED so it’s always good to have a backup list of chores they can do to get those extra credits.
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“GENTLE PARENTING IS A LIFESTYLE THAT EMBRACES BOTH YOUR PHYSICAL AND PSYCHOLOGICAL BEHAVIOR, NOT ONLY TOWARDS YOUR CHILDREN, BUT TO YOURSELF TOO“— SARA HOCKWELL-SMITH