10 tips to get your kids to do household chores

1. Start 'em young
It's never too late to start, but the earlier, the better. There's one caveat, though. Until they're three, you can't expect children to do anything in a consistent fashion. The goal at that age is not necessarily for your child to really help with chores, but to help him learn about responsibility and being part of a family team.

2. Safety first
This is your No. 1 concern at any age.

3. Keep it simple so they'll succeed
When kids are young, give them basic tasks. Start off together the first few times, then progress to giving them guidelines so they can do the chore on their own.

4. Be specific
Even with older kids, spell out what needs to be done. Don't say, "Clean up your room"; instead say, "Put your clothes in the dresser," or "Make your bed."

5. Pick age-appropriate tasks
With toddlers, go for one-step chores such as putting a few toys in a container or setting napkins on the table. Bump things up a notch when they're preschoolers. For instance, ask them to put away all their toys. By the time your children are in school, you can add to their list of responsibilities, such as making the bed, hanging up towels in the bathroom or clearing the table, or at least their own spot.

6. Help keep older kids organized
Give them a workspace, a garbage can, shelves and storage bins to reduce the amount of mess they make.

7. Don't pay for it
Kids don't need to get paid for doing chores. Doing so leaves them with the message that they have an option. A better reward is to do something together, such as going out for ice cream, or offer up your praise for a job done. "However, if your child comes to you and says, I'd like to work part time and make some money,' then you can offer him money to do a specific job that's not part of his regular chores."

8. Be realistic and flexible about your expectations
Kids are busy these days with schoolwork and extracurricular programs, so pick your priorities so they don't have too much to do. For instance, have them focus on tidying up the bedroom or the laundry room. Tweens and teens can also help out in ways that aren't too time-consuming, such as clearing the table, taking out the garbage or watering the garden. Beware: Teen bedrooms are an issue unto themselves, so you need to keep things in perspective. Sometimes it's best just to close the door to a teen's room, and other times it's better to pitch in and help clean it.

Tip: Your teen won't allow you to help if you comment about stuff you don't approve of in his room, such as posters, so simply make the experience as pleasant as possible for both of you.

9. Lend a hand
If you see or sense that your child is overwhelmed with a chore, help him out.

10. Lower your standards
For instance, accept that the bathroom won't be as immaculate

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