Getting kids to do chores can be a struggle many parents go through. After years of being mollycoddled and spoonfed, children are bound to put up some resistance to housework.So, to help solve your chore time problems once and for all, I’ve put together these 11 effective techniques to get your kids doing the chores without a tantrum.
1. Let them prove your wrong
There’s nothing better than getting one up on mum and dad. Using reverse psychology can be a great way to get children to undertake more advanced or complex chores just to prove you wrong. “You do a good job of sorting the washing into piles, but I don’t think you could actually put the detergent in the washing machine and put it on the right setting.” Cajoling like this can get many children to challenge themselves – remember to give special praise when they do.
2. Make your child the specialist
Children love it when you show them that you trust them to do something important, especially when it gives them a sense of pride and purpose. To achieve this, think of a chore you want them to do and, before asking them to do it by themselves, get them to help you do it first. When they help, tell them they are really good at it -even better than you. Then, when it’s time to allocate the chore, you can tel them that you are asking them to do it because they are the specialist – the best in the family at doing that job. “No-one lays the table quite as neatly as you can.”
3. Make chores enjoyable
There are plenty of ways to turn doing chores into a fun activity. One way is to turn them into a competition. This is really easy if you have two or more children doing chores at the same time. You can see who can do them the quickest or give marks for how well or efficiently they undertake the task.You can liven up chore time with singing or for older children put some music on in the background.
4. Choose your rewards carefully
Some people see rewarding children for doing chores as a form of bribery. Whilst I can see their point of view, I prefer to pay my children pocket money. I only give them a small allowance for each chore; if they don’t do the chore they do not get paid, if they do more chores they get paid more. I do this to help them understand how money works and to appreciate the importance of work. A child’s allowance, according to parenting coach, James Lehman, should be, “hooked into their chores.” And it really does help motivate them.
When you have two children and one has earned more pocket money and can afford a treat that the other one can’t, the one who has less soon learns the lesson. It’s a brilliant way to teach them financial responsibility and develop a good attitude to work at an early age. And, at the end of they day they can save up and buy themselves something they really want.
5. Follow up the chore with something fun
As an incentive to get the chores done without tantrums, let the kids know that once they’ve finished, it will be time for a fun activity. They’ll be less likely to whinge and whine if they know something good will happen at the end. It doesn’t have to be something big. Perhaps you can sit down to a family movie, get a pizza delivered, go to the park – anything your children like doing. It works best if it’s done as a family activity.
6. Develop regular routines
If you can, arrange a chore timetable. Try to do things on certain days of the week or at the scheduled times of day. Pick times which are suitable for everyone. We have a cleaner who comes on Friday mornings, so for us, Thursdays after school is “tidy your room” time. That way, all the clutter is away so the cleaner can clean properly.
Having regular routines helps children mentally prepare for doing the chore and this reduces the chance of them reacting negatively when the time comes. If you just spring a chore on them out of the blue whilst they are doing something more interesting, you are likely to face resistance.
7. Lead by example
There can be a lot of gain if everyone in the house is doing chores at the same time, parents included. So for example, after the evening meal, everyone could do 15 minutes of housework together. One could put the dishes in the dishwasher, another could sweep or vacuum the floors, someone else could give the sitting room a tidy, etc. Working together helps create a stronger family bond, encourages everyone to take part and lets the children see that parents practice what they preach. It also helps children see the value of housework.
8. Use chores as a special bonding time
It’s important that all children get to have a little bit of one to one time with a parent and it can be difficult to find the time in our modern, busy families. Sharing a chore together can be a fantastic way to have some quality time. Whether you are making dinner together or tidying up their room with them, it gives you the opportunity to talk and share things when no-one else is around. Priceless.
9. Give clear direction
You can learn this the hard way, like I did, after praising my daughter for tidying her room and then finding all the clutter swept under the bed and hidden under the rug. The trouble was my lack of clarity in expressing my expectations. I said I didn’t want to see any clutter on the floor. When I inspected her room, there was not. I should have told her exactly what I expected.
Once you have told your child your expectations or given them the job description, it’s important that you check that they are done to this standard all the time. It’s especially important when they first start. If you start off with low expectations and then keep adding to them the child is going to think that you are constantly trying to make things harder for them and this increases the chance of them having a tantrum about it.
10. Give your kids variety
One way to make doing chores less of a chore is to allow some variety. Give you child a few options to choose from. This is important as it not only gives them a break from the jobs they like the least but also helps them develop new life skills. For example, today you could give them the option of sorting out the day’s recycling or chopping vegetables for dinner. Tomorrow it could be clean out the cat’s food bowls or put the ironing away.
Nothing works quite like praise. Praise encourages children to continue doing chores and to do them better, it shows them that you have respect for them and that you appreciate the work they are doing. Praise is free to give, but its value is immeasurable. So, praise, praise, praise.
No matter how you struggle at first, always remember that doing chores fosters responsibility, develops independence, increases resilience and gives your kids a range of life skills needed for the big wide world. Keep on the good work.
I’m sure there are many other ways to help get kids doing the chores; if you have any suggestions please share them in the comments below and help out other parents.