Do your kids do their fair share around the house? Most parents would say they could be doing more. Getting kids to do chores can feel like an uphill battle. Kids won’t jump at the opportunity to help clean house, make dinner or do laundry but these are skills they will need in life. Having children pitch in also reduces feelings of entitlement and completing tasks boosts self-confidence. How do you get your kids to pitch in?
1.) Start when they are young. Little kids enjoy helping out and imitating your behavior. Even though their helping may not be that helpful, express appreciation for their willingness to pitch in and focus on what they are doing right not on what they could be doing better. With practice and positive encouragement their contribution will make a noticeable difference.
2.) Give you child options. Make a list of things that need to happen to help the household run smoothly. Let your child chose how they will contribute then show him/her how to do the job. Instead of saying do it now, give a reasonable timeframe for the job to be completed.
3.) Set reasonable expectations. If you want a job done perfect, do that job yourself and give the child a different job. However, the job is not done until it’s done right. When your child doesn’t give it his/her best, gently correct the behavior by addressing what needs to happen before the job is complete. Avoid the temptation to lecture. The fewer words you use when your child miss-behaves the more effective you will be.
4.) Don’t get sucked into arguments. Instead use enforceable statements such as; you are welcome to go be with friends as soon as you have finished cleaning the bathroom. When the child says something like, “I wasn’t born into this family to be a slave,” calmly say, “I love you too much to argue and separate yourself from the child.”
5.) Resist the temptation to use money as a tool to get your child to help out. Kids contribute because they are a valued member of the family not because they are getting paid five bucks.
In our home it took a while to get everyone on board with chores. It helped to have the kids consistently do something small each day after school then have them make bigger contributions on the weekend. We knew the process was working when we heard one teen say to the other, “I just cleaned in there.” “Get back in here and pick this up!”
Kerri Gray is a marriage and family therapist. She teaches educational programs for parents, teachers and students through Lee’s Summit CARES. She resides in Lee’s Summit with her husband and four daughters.