My kids are 15, 13, almost 2 and a baby.
While I do need to remind the older two at times to do chores, for the most part, they know when their chores need to be done and do them without being asked.
Parents of their friends often ask how I get them to help, especially how to get them to do it without complaining. Here are my tips.
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1. Start Young
Kids are way more capable than most adult thinks.
Previous generations and other cultures even now, would have kids come along and do whatever the parent was doing. It is part of learning and developing.
My 13 year old loved vacuum cleaning when she was 18 months old.
She wanted to walk around everywhere with it on. So I let her.
Her older sister loved helping with the dishes.
At 2 years old, they would pull a chair over and want to clean. I let them My third child loves this too and we encourage it by letting him stand and help.
At those ages, I wasn’t forcing them to do anything.
They were curious, enjoyed it and learnt to do more. The jobs were not perfectly done, obviously but as they started doing things young, it was normal for them to do more as they got older.
Kids learn a lot and enjoy spending time with you.
It might take longer to do the chore but it is great for so many areas of their development.
My kids are proud of how much they know to do compared to their peers.
Their peers are shocked at what they know and what they can do.
They love getting recipes and cooking them or using meal kits to try new ones.
They pick the recipes and cook it all themselves now with a few tips from us.
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Start your kids young. It doesn’t have to be as young as mine but they are more capable than you think.
You will need patience as chores take longer with kids but sacrificing a little extra time now will reap rewards later.
2. If Your Kid can use an iPad, They can use the Washing Machine!
As I said, kids are more capable than you think. How many children easily navigate technology from a young age?
If they can do that they can do the washing, load and put on the dishwasher, water plants etc.
Teach them to do it, assist and answer questions when needed, correct and guide them and they can do almost anything.
Select age-appropriate chores and you will be amazed at how much less you have to do and how much they can do.
Most importantly, take the time to teach them patiently and correctly.
You can’t just show them once quickly and expect them to get it.
They need help, you need to go slow, show them step-by-step and help them understand it so they can do it properly.
All my kids from when they could walk wanted to help put things in the washing machine and take them out.
They’d hand me the clothes or pegs and also liked being involved in washing the car, taking the rubbish or compost out, all of it.
In fact, they’d cry if they didn’t get to do it.
My almost 2 year old HAS to do whatever chore his older siblings are doing.
He is so adamant about it and they happily bring him along and give him things to do.
It’s part of being a family and being part of a team.
We all work together and it gets things done.
3. Chores = Rewards
I don’t do this in my home much. As my kids live here, they are expected to help clean up, it’s part of life.
They have their specific chores which we review regularly.
My older two chose their own and split what I asked of them between themselves without much of a problem.
They both have chores they prefer so it was easy.
Praise and encouragement means a lot when it comes to the chores as well.
When I do offer a reward, it is usually something along the lines of screen time or art supplies or a family activity.
I don’t typically tie money to chores as I didn’t want to encourage the attitude of only helping for payment.
I’ve seen research on this and it seems when money is tied to the chore as the reward and kids aren’t simply expected to contribute, they do less.
They also expect more compensation when they do the basics.
In my experience, my kids do more than others, don’t complain and my eldest often offers or simply does what they see needs doing.
My second child was extremely motivated to get a job outside the home and because of how we are in the home, their boss was amazed at how well they did in the store, especially for their age.
Offer praise when they do well and outline exactly what they did well.
Instead of “Good job cleaning the bathroom” say something such as “Thanks for cleaning the bathroom. You did great clearing the mould out of the corner there/I love how clean you made the vanity, especially around the taps/the toilet is so clean! You did so well.”
By including a specific thing they did, it personalises the praise and makes them more likely to do that same thing next time as well as encouraging them to do more.
Often, I have seen others try to teach their kids but spend the whole time criticising them and how they do it.
Your kids will not do the job exactly how you do it. Do you want it done or not?
Back off a little and let them do it their own way.
If something truly needs correcting, be gentle about it, show them how and tell them why without being condescending, critical, rushed, aggressive or “Ugh, I’ll just do it myself”.
Approach them with love and praise them on what they did well first.
Then offer a nice suggestion on a way to make it easier, cleaner or whatever it is you think needs to be done differently.
Don’t take over doing it, don’t get angry or anything like that.
Be patient, and loving and offer advice in the way you would want someone to teach you.
No one responds well to aggressive criticism.
Kids aren’t robots and they aren’t adults. Don’t expect them to be perfect.
They’re learning, they need love, support and guidance to do these things.
No one learns or remembers anything when they are yelled at constantly or belittled and criticised.
5. Lead By Example
Let your kids see you doing what you want them to do.
Talk to them about it, show them how to do it and lead by example.
When we actively live what we preach, kids are more likely to follow.
Ever heard the saying “Actions speak louder than words?”
It goes for everything in life.
Your kids are watching what you do whether you realise it or not.
Get a routine, clean, cook, meal plan and get the kids involved in all of it.
My kids help select meals and recipes, they do shopping with us, clean, all of it.
It’s easy for them as they have always been doing those things with me and helping me.
Even as toddlers, we had pictures of what we were buying and they would help put things in the trolley.
As they got older, that progressed to them helping write the shopping list as we went through the pantry and fridge etc.
They learnt how to compare prices, look for the sales and not pay full price.
Your kids will learn what they see you do so be sure to do what you want them to do.
How to get EVERYONE to help at home
I focused on kids in this article because I was a single mother for most of my kid’s lives and got asked predominantly about how to get kids to help.
But what about others in the home? That can be a lot hard. Aspiring Millionaire has great tips on “Insourcing and how to get everyone to help at home”.
How do you get your kids to help at home?
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