How to – and when to – get your kids to help with chores


Learning new chores

It is important to remember that learning a new chore takes years — not days, weeks or even months for a child to move from completing the task with help, to doing a task independently.

For example, according to a 1989 study of families in Washington state, 99 percent of children involved could dress themselves with help beginning at age 2-1/2, but still needed reminding or supervision around age 5, and did not fully complete the task without reminding or supervision until 10-1/2 years of age.

So, how do you get children to help out with chores?

  • Be clear and specific when giving instructions for a task.
  • Provide choices in assigning chores. Try a “job jar” or job rotation.
  • Avoid being a nag.
  • Brainstorm ways to “help” children remember to get jobs done. Create a customized chore checklist.
  • Make sure consistent consequences are in place when a job doesn’t get done.
  • Make doing tasks fun!
  • Rotate the “dirty jobs” that no one wants.
  • Try to avoid re-doing a job. A child may not complete a task the way you would do it, but the important thing is that he or she tried.
  • Consider safety when assigning and supervising tasks.
  • Offer praise and express appreciation when children complete or attempt tasks. Appreciation is a great motivator!

You can also help your kids become responsible by being a responsible role model, helping them with problem-solving and decision-making, and showing that work contributes to the family. You should also expect good things from children, offer love, encouragement and support, and have appropriate expectations for each child.

Information courtesy of University of Illinois Extension


Image: Young girl sewing by window by Henriëtte Willebeek le Mair

Also see: Household chores by age

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