How to get your child to help with chores

The benefits of sharing family chores are aplenty. It can build a child’s self-esteem, confidence, and much-needed life skills like time management and organizational skills. It teaches them responsibility and valuable life lessons that’ll get them set for living independently as they grow older. I’m sure we all want our kids to be organised and well-equipped to keep their home clean, do laundry and cook their meals when they venture into the adult world. While some children might be eager to help, others might need a little more nudging, but chores are appropriate for children of all ages. We just need to know how to build up to larger responsibilities.

chore jar with tasks

Chores help children feel like they are contributing to the family in their own special way and makes them feel valued. The key is to give them age-appropriate chores that they can manage at first with a little guidance and then independently. With practice will come expertise and confidence. A chore is even more attractive when it doesn’t feel like one. Now that you know it’s good for them, the more important task is getting your kids on board.

Here are some tips to get you started.

Start them young:

Don’t wait until you think your child is old enough to help out. Children can help with chores at almost any age, as long as they are age-appropriate and well guided. You can get them started as young as age 2. Putting their toys away after a day’s play is almost universally the first chore to start with.

Don’t insist on perfection:

The point is to get them started. Insisting on perfection might make the chore appear too demanding and nagging. Try to keep it fun and interesting. Be generous with your praise: This is true especially with young kids. Building a positive association with doing their chores can make them almost look forward to it. And when we talk about praise, we mean to praise the effort your child is putting in. And no, you don’t need to wait until the chore is completed, encourage them as they move towards it.

kids sharing chores in the kitchen
Include it in their routine:

Nothing helps more than practice, like with most things in life. Making certain chores a part of their daily routine helps establish the practice. Putting away toys before bedtime or setting the table before dinner or the dishes away after snack time. The more you make it a habit, the less likely they are going to expect someone else to do it.

Consistency is key:

Setting reasonable expectations about what is to be done and when helps giving kids clarity. Being consistent with the rules and expectations keeps the confusion and frustration at bay.

Positive Feedback:

This is crucial. Make sure to appreciate their effort and reinforce this behaviour. Children feel a certain sense of accomplishment and pride when they complete their chores, join in their feelings.

mother giving positive feedback to son

Be patient with children and their chores. Don’t expect them to excel and complete them without hesitation or gentle reminders right away. At first, teach them how, then assist them, nudge them until they are accomplished at completing their chores on their own. Most of all, make sure you are giving them age-appropriate chores to increase the likelihood of completion.

Here are some age-appropriate chores for young children :

     2 -3 years

  • Put toys away
  • Water plants with a spray bottle
  • Put clothes in the laundry
  • Dust furniture
  • Match socks

     4-5 years

  • Clear table at mealtimes
  • Put away dishes
  • Empty trash
  • Put away groceries
  • Put clothes in drawers
  • Fill pet’s food bowl

   6-7 years

  • Sort laundry
  • Set and clear table
  • Tidy up bedroom
  • Sweep floor
  • Help with drying and folding clothes
child helping parent with laundry

Remember that involving children in household chores gives them an opportunity to learn important life skills. Don’t shy away from giving them little tasks wondering if you are burdening them. Our job as parents is to nurture their skills to be independent and efficient adults in the future. Change the tasks on their lists as they grow older and gain more skills and you’ll be on the right path to raising a happy, confident and responsible adult.  

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