Most kids (and many adults, for that matter) do not like to do chores. Let’s face it, household tasks are generally boring. Give any child the choice between cleaning the dishes and almost any other activity and you’ll end up with a sink full of dirty plates every time. While chores are not always the most desirable of tasks, they are an inevitable part of life. So how do you get your child to share in these household tasks and responsibilities without dealing with the headaches and hassles related to the ongoing battle of getting your child to do his or her chores?
Here are 7 things to consider when looking for ways to motivate your child to complete household tasks:
1. Keep the Big Picture in Mind. The time you spend holding children accountable in the completion of their chores not only achieves the short term goal of getting the house clean, it teaches them the important life skill of managing and maintaining a home. The time you spend now is an investment in their future and yours. Giving up and giving in now by doing their jobs for them or failing to teach them will only lead you to resentment and your children to be ill-prepared for the future.
2. Be Specific With Your Expectations. Discuss with your child and make a list of the chores you expect your child to complete. Explain or demonstrate what is expected and be clear on what chores need to be done on a daily, weekly and monthly basis. Break larger jobs down into manageable tasks. For example, cleaning their bedroom may include sorting toys and clutter, putting clothes away, emptying the wastebasket, returning items to their proper places.
3. Timing is Everything. Setting a timer is a good way to motivate your child to do chores. Let your child know ahead of time there will be a consequence if the task is not completed within the allotted time, such as an earlier bedtime or loss of screen time. The beauty of this approach is that you are no longer seen as the “chore nag,” you are simply the one keeping the time and helping your child understand the consequences of inaction. On the flip side, you can use the timer as an incentive. For example, if a task is completed correctly within an allotted period of time, a reward such as staying up or staying online for an extra specified period of time.
4. The Power of Choice. Children who are given a choice tend to do chores more happily and better. When assigning household tasks, give your child several options to choose from, such as a choice between cleaning the bathroom or vacuuming. While certain activities may be unfavorable to one family member, they may be of more interest to another and the various jobs can be distributed accordingly. If, however, undesirable tasks are unavoidable, consider assigning them on a rotating basis.
5. Establish a Routine and Stick to it. Structure is important when it comes to carrying out household tasks. Designate a time each day or week for chores to be completed. For example, the day before the trash truck arrives is the day all the wastebaskets in the house are emptied. In addition, tie chores into related events, such as post-meal time for kitchen cleaning tasks, or before bedtime for room-tidying chores.
6. Work Together. Children may feel lonely or resentful if they are the only ones completing chores at a given time. To alleviate these sentiments, institute a “family pick up time” each day or a “family clean up time” each week. While you may not all be completing the same tasks, each knows the others are hard at work as well. If nothing else, misery loves company!
7. Consistency is the Key. While elaborate chore charts or reward systems may seem appealing, employing these means will not be effective if they are not maintained. That being said, find a plan or strategy that is most realistic for your family and stick to it. Don’t change tactics every other week if things are not working for you. It takes 21 days to form a habit, so give it some time. If you do need to make changes, make them gradually.