Getting kids to do chores is never easy, but having them participate builds a sense of responsibility that will set them up for life. Not only that, but chores are a great family activity and can help develop the family bond. To make your life easier, we’ve put together our top 10 hacks for getting kids to help out around the house. Download a free chore chart to stick on your fridge at home, buy a packet of star stickers and reward the kids for their contributions to the household!
1. Chores are good for childhood development
The first step is to explain that chores are an important part of life. Research from the Center of Parenting indicates that children who are regularly involved in household chores have higher self-esteem, are more responsible and are better able to deal with obstacles. This translates to a positive impact later in life – the best predictor of young adults’ success in their mid-20s was that they participated in household tasks from when they were three or four. Start instilling good habits early to set your kids up for their adult lives.
2. Set age appropriate chores
Children who don't have chores or who don't have clear boundaries for tasks often feel more insecure,” says Deb Hopper, Clinical Director and Occupational Therapist at Life Skills 4 Kids. Deb says that while we often associate kids’ development with play, chores also have a huge role: “learning to do chores and being responsible within a rhythm of household routine teaches skills that cannot be learnt through play.” Deb suggests setting age appropriate chores for your children from 3-4 years old. This can be as simple as pulling the bed covers up or putting their plate on the sink after dinner. Naturally, their chores will change as they develop and learn to master new skills.
3. Show them by ‘doing’
Sometimes kids need a bit of direction, especially when taking to something new. The best way to teach them how to do chores is to do them together as a family and physically showing them how. Ease little ones in doing quick spurts of cleaning, such as a ‘10-minute pick-up’ exercise, where everyone in the family spends a focused 10 minutes on basic cleaning and tidying.
4. Be a role model
Sitting on the couch while the kids do chores won’t foster a healthy and self-starter environment. If they can’t watch television until the chores are done, neither should you. Some parenting experts recommend changing the wifi or streaming service password and not giving out the new one until the chores are completed – if this is the way to motivate your kids, ensure you follow the same rules.
5. Start small
Break the chores down into smaller tasks to help children get accustomed to doing them, and don’t make them too daunting. For example, Amy from family blog The Idea Room, created chore cards that outline exactly what needs to be done when it comes to cleaning different parts of the house. Not only do they help kids break the jobs into smaller parts, but this also prevents them from cutting corners.
5. Allow some choice
Children are more likely to be responsible when they have a say in how they go about doing tasks. Put together a list or chart of jobs that need to be done and allow your children to pick which ones they will do, and when. This will give them some autonomy and help them understand their ownership of the task.
6. Provide structure
By keeping a visible list on the fridge, you’ll make sure the tasks are never out of sight or out of mind. Get some buy-in from your children by having them help create the system for chores, such as printable punch cards or a personalised chore chart.
7. Positive reinforcement
Use positive praise when the job is done. Point out what is good about the work they have completed and how they have helped out the family. While they’re doing their chores, take an interest in their work and listen with compassion to any suggestions and complaints they have – while still ensuring that they complete them!
8. Gamify chores
Try to turn every day chore into a game as a motivating tool. For example, setting the kitchen timer to see how many toys can be put away in five minutes, or matching up socks and throwing them back into the washing basket.
9. Generate excitement
Avoid using chores as a punishment and make them exciting instead. Have the kids design and create a chore lottery to use when it’s time for odd jobs, and consider rewarding them if they take on additional tasks. And don’t forget the power of music to help kids dance their way through dull tasks.
10. Make it part of family time
With both parents at work in 64% of all Australian families, finding time to get the housework done and enjoying quality time as a family can be challenging. Household chores provide a way for you to do both! For example, get out in the garden together to do some planting or weeding – it will get the kids outside and will give you an opportunity to teach them about gardening. Try a friendly race against the clock, creating teams to compete for first place. Or you could come up with a family reward that you can all appreciate once the chores are done.
89% of Australians feel that technology and social media are a big distraction from having quality family time – all the more reason to turn off devices and get to working together!
By teaching your kids about the value of housework, you’re teaching them valuable life lessons, like discipline, teamwork, and spending time together as a family. By cementing these good habits early, you’ll also lighten the load for yourself.
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