So, how do you get kids to do chores? Well, in theory it's quite simple… Start early, assign age appropriate chores, explain how to do them, be clear in your expectations, and follow through and hold your ground.
When you add in one or several little or big personalities, depending on the age of your kids, it can be downright tough to get kids to do their chores and do them correctly.
A sound piece of advice I received from my pediatrician who raised three children all with wildly different personalities… "Remember you're bigger than them!"
That piece of advice may sound simple and silly, but in the heat of the moment of parenting, it has actually saved me from caving in. So, read on and remember… You're bigger than them and get your kids to do their chores!
Start early and assign kids age appropriate chores. I didn't do this with my oldest child and I paid the price! I made the huge mistake of waiting too long to have her do chores and clean up after herself. Since it was just her and I for a long time, it was easier for me to do everything.
For more info on getting your kids to do chores early, see my page on toddler chores.
Before you can assign age appropriate chores, you'll have to work quickly on creating categories of chores such as cooking, cleaning up after dinner, doing dishes, vacuuming, dusting… whatever your household needs are, write them down.
The act of writing them down will help when you assign chores.
To further help you in writing out chore lists, here's a listing of age appropriate chores for toddlers, at Make Chores Fun Toddler Activities and for age appropriate chores for your older kids, you'll want to take a look at Chores for Kids Ages 5 - 10.
Don't underestimate the visual impact of posting chores for kids to see. Kids can easily tune us out, but although they may try, they'll be hard pressed to win an argument about chores if they are posted for everyone to see.
If you need chore charts, be sure to check out chorecharts.com for free printable chore charts you can easily download.
Now with the chores posted for everyone to see, you're ready to assign age appropriate chores for to your kids! Just assign chores for kids to do and don't get buy in from anyone.
Assign age appropriate chores for every kid and you may even want to rotate chores every week. You can even use the chore charts as punishment. For instance, if your kid gets in trouble, then they have bathroom duty for one week or two weeks, whatever works for you.
You may want to include yourself on the chore list too as this will limit the amount of whining when your kids see that you have chores too.
When you first assign age appropriate chores for your kids to do, explain and show them how to do chores. For instance, when you assign setting the table to a toddler, be specific and show them how to do it. The same goes for the older kids. Show them how to correctly clean a toilet, polish a table, dust off a picture, whatever you assign them. This way, if all goes as planned, they'll do it right. Or, if they don't and want to argue about it, they won't have a leg to stand on because you gave them clear instructions as to how to complete the task.
When you explain to your child how to do chores, be clear in your expectations. For instance, tell them that you will be following up on their work to see if they did it as you explained it. Tell your child how long it should reasonably take them to complete a task so they don't lolly gag and waste time.
Now, depending on your child's personality, comes the hard part. Follow through and make sure they complete their chores according to your expectations. If they didn't, then they will have to do them again. I say this is the hard part because one of my kids is very stubborn and had to clean a bathroom three times! No, I'm not that picky, but it was the principle of doing things as they were told, doing them with a good attitude, and just doing a good job in general that I was trying to instill in my child.
So, follow through and hold your ground using these tips to get your kids to do their chores. And, be sure to use this last critical step as a tool to teach your child to do a good job in whatever they do in life.
Use chores as an opportunity to teach your kids responsibility, to be a functional member of society, and most importantly to gain self esteem for a job well done.