Getting your kids to help around the house – made easy of course!
Posted by: Sue Atkins
I’m speaking on BBC Radio Kent about the importance of giving your kids chores to do in the house.
I believe it makes them feel part of the family team, it teaches them independence and gives them the feeling of competence and capability.
If it feels like you are the one bearing the brunt of domestic chores in your home it may be time to share the load – with your children.
Giving kids chores not only lightens your workload, it also encourages teamwork and discipline. Your kids get to understand that they are an important cog in your family wheel.
It also makes them realise that you aren’t there just to pick-up and clean after them, so it eases any frustration you may have about being taken for granted.
Most of the problem here arises from the words we use. There’s a big emotional difference between ‘doing chores’ and just ‘helping out’ around the house
Routines, Tasks and Chores To Teach Independence and Responsibility.
Getting kids to complete tasks of every day living is important to their development.
If each morning you hear yourself saying, “I said, brush your teeth,” or “I said, make your bed,” think about being more specific in your instructions and also notice whether you are giving a command in your voice or asking a question as this can make a BIG difference. Make sure you are giving clear instructions and make sure you’ve thought through the consequences if your child doesn’t do what you’ve asked.
Instead of making a battle out of it, consider your approach. Are you clear in what you expect?
Have you been clear that you ‘mean business’ as so many parents half heartedly expect their kids to contribute to what I call ‘The We Family Team’ & kids pick up on that!
Teach your children the value of contributions early on by teaching daily routines, tasks and chores. Be clear, be concrete and be consistent.
Be clear on WHY you want your child to contribute to the family. It’s part of being a family team member and teaches your kids responsibility.
STEP 1 Identify The Daily Routines For Your Children
Helping your children to identify their part of their daily routine is one step toward practicing independence and responsibility.
Create a poster with what jobs your kids are expected to do and perhaps a tick list where they can tick or pop a sticker on the chart when they’ve done it.
It creates a sense of achievement and motivation which will increase the likelihood of exhibiting the behaviour the next time.
Establish a daily task routine. Make play dates, sports and family fun dependent on your kids accomplishing their specific tasks. It’s very simple, you give to your family and the family gives back to you. It’s part of being a family team. Make each child a task list and hang them in the bathroom or in their bedroom or in the kitchen . These are tasks that are simply part of daily living, so don’t give your kids money, they are just being a responsible family member!
Top Tip Write the tasks down.
Here’s an example:
Jodie, age 10
Make my bed
Put my PJs under my pillow
Clear the table
Brush my teeth
Brush my hair
Get my school rucksack and homework
Put on my shoes
I’m all ready to go out the door !
STEP 2 Assign Daily and Weekly Chores
Chores or jobs are separate from personal tasks (part of a daily routine) as they are done for the good of the community. Chores teach children the value of living in a group, a community, or being part of a family.
Chores are a part of making expected contributions to the household. Children don’t earn money for doing what is expected. They are expected to be a productive part of the family, their tasks are a piece of that, just as listening respectfully and being kind are expected.
STEP 3 Model Your Values
If you are going to give pocket money make sure you establish a specific amount, be consistent in giving it out each week and make sure the children complete the tasks assigned to earn it.
(Then let them spend it on sweets, comics and toys if that’s what they want to do with it !)
Chores for 2 and 3 year olds
- Put away their own toys – make a game out of it, put the timer on your phone and see how quickly they can do it
- Put their clothes in the dirty washing basket
- Dust – give them a feather duster or a cloth and they will happily dust alongside you
Chores for 4 and 5 year olds
- Make their own beds – it’s easier if they have duvets
- Clear away the table after a meal
- Unload the dishwasher
- Help with weeding in the garden under supervision
Chores for 6 and 7 year olds
- Sort out the clean washing
- Lay the table and clear it
- Keep their own bedroom tidy
- Make themselves a bowl of cereal
Chores for 8 and 9 year olds
- Load the dishwasher
- Put away groceries
- Put away their own washing
- Make their own breakfast, including toast
Chores for children aged 10 and above
- Clean the bathroom and the kitchen
- Wash the car
- Cook simple meals like pasta and sauce with supervision
- Load and unload the washing machine
- Change the sheets and covers on their bed
Money for chores?
As children get older and more savvy, they might ask for money for doing chores around the home.
Should you pay them? It’s up to you but I’d say probably not, for general around the house jobs that benefit the family as a whole.
Your child should realise that tidying their bedroom, for instance, benefits them so they shouldn’t expect cash for doing it. You don’t really want them to see money as a reward for doing what’s expected of them anyway.
If children are trying to save for something specific like a computer game or new pair of trainers , it may be an idea to give them extra chores like washing the kitchen floor, watering plants or washing the car that you will pay ‘extra’ for. My car was never as clean as when my daughter Molly was saving up to buy a camera!
Here’s my article on