Getting The Kids To Do Their Chores

Over the last few weeks I have shared what household tasks or chores our kids do

One of the most frequently asked questions is how do I get my kids to actually do them?

Our kids chores are not associated at all to their pocket money.  You can see our rationale for this in one of my first post son the blog – Financial Planning With Kids.

While I would love to say that I never have to remind the kids to do their chores, it is not the case.  I do have to remind them to do them and for some of the kids I have to remind them more than once on the odd occasion, but it is rare that I ever get absolute refusal to do their tasks.  They may do it with some unhappiness or attitude but they will complete their tasks.

So how does this happen?  I guess it is through a combination of factors and lots of years of having them undertake work around the house.  Here are some of the things that work for our family:

Start them young – our kids have had to do small things since they were around two and we build on their tasks from there. Doing work around the house is just part of life.

Let the kids have a say – we decide who does what around the house for the kids at our family meetings.  Having the kids have some buy in to the tasks means they are more likely to do them.  Again, it isn’t a magic wand, but when I receive complaints about how much they dislike having to do this or that job, I advise them to bring the issue with a solution to the next family meeting.  It gives them some control over the situation and responsibility for resolving their problem.

Breaking the chores down – I find it really helpful to chunk up the tasks to particular times across the day, so the kids know what they have to do and when. Our kids have tasks in the morning, the afternoon and evening. It also makes it easier for me to do just one reminder.  For example, if the kids haven’t made a start on their morning tasks by 7.45am, I will just say to them “Breakfast jobs are waiting” and they will make a start on them.  The kids know we cannot leave for school until they are done.

Visual reminders – while kids are getting used to the chores they have to do, it can be very helpful to have them printed out and stuck up somewhere prominently.  For younger kids having the text accompanied by pictures as well.  We used to have our morning jobs pinned to the front of the fridge, so I could refer the kids to them.

Natural consequences – our children have limited technology time.  You can see what we do in this post – Managing Technology With Kids. Before the kids start their technology sessions, they need to have completed any of their chores that need doing.  They have fair warning of this and if the chores start taking too long and it is an evening session of technology, the natural consequence of having less technology will follow, as they will still have to go to bed at the same time.

Waiting them out – sometimes the 4 and 7 year old will lose focus on tasks and not complete their tidy up for example.  They will then come and ask for something from me, it could be to get a puzzle down from a shelf or something to eat and I will respond that I can help them with their request once they have finished their tasks.

The calm repeat – this goes for all age groups unfortunately.  I accept that sometimes I will have to ask more than once for something to be done. I wish I didn’t, but it happens.  If I can stay as calm as possible about this and repeat the request for the kids to undertake their chores, it is far more effective and positive, than when I get frustrated and snappy at them (yes I have learned this from experience, but still fall into the trap of letting my frustrations get the better of me at times!)

Consistency – if I want the kids to consistently do their chores, then I need to make sure they are done consistently.  I remember as a kid not doing things if I thought I could get away with it!  So if one of the kids have left their dirty clothes in the bathroom, even though it is easier for me to just pick it up and take it to the laundry, I will seek out the child and request they pick it up.  Being consistent when kids start undertaking new tasks can be a challenge.  It does really seem to be more effort working with them to get the job done, than it would be just to do it myself.  But that is the short term view.  Long term I want to create capable kids who can do things for themselves and for others, so I grit my teeth, remind myself to be calm and repeat the request one more time.

 What about you?  How do you get your kids to do their chores?