Chill the Chore Wars

One of our jobs as parents is to raise the future’s responsible adults. Doing so
begins at home. Parents can begin to build the foundation of responsibility through teaching and expecting their children to do their fare share around the house.

When children pitch in with chores they learn more than responsibility. Children also acquire competence, self-reliance and self-worth, and an appreciation for teamwork and cooperation–skills that will accompany them throughout their lifetimes. Follow these tips to chill any chore wars in your home.

Begin Early
Little ones are eager to help. They can help you pick up and put away their toys, match socks, hand you their dishes, bring you ingredients, or stir the muffin batter. They are learning through your everyday experiences and loving guidance.

Start Small
Tasks should not be overwhelming. For example, asking a three-year-old to clean the bathroom by himself is too much. So is folding all of the laundry. He can, though, learn how to rinse out the tub with a plastic cup after it is used or fold the washcloths and smaller towels.

Provide Choices
When your child is older he can take on additional and more complex tasks like taking out the trash, walking the dog, and doing the dishes. These chores have multiple steps involved and will likely require some supervision and training until your child is doing them correctly.
Have a family meeting for the purpose of discussing what chores need to be done and how often and who will be assigned to do them. Also make sure everyone understands that they may have to pitch in where needed, say another family member is sick or otherwise unavailable.

Do Your Part
Chores are part of daily life for every person, whether they live with others or not. Model a good attitude about doing chores. Be calm and matter of fact when you are doing chores or asking your child to do them. A child who observes his parent doing a chore in this manner is more likely to cooperate when asked to do a chore.
Consider partnering with your child, working along side them to complete a task. Partnering offers you the opportunity to explain why you do the task the way you do and demonstrate the steps you take. Ask your child to copy you. You are there to gently and lovingly encourage and guide him.

Provide Incentives and Rewards
Motivate your child as he moves through preschool, elementary, middle, and high school years by using incentives and rewards, along with loving encouragement. Taylor incentives and rewards to the individual child and his interests. Be patient and consistent. And don’t forget the verbal praise, thanks and hugs.

Chore Ideas by Age Groups

• Clearing their place at the kitchen table.
• Putting dishes in sink.
• Matching socks.
• Folding towels and washcloths.
• Putting their toys away.

Elementary-Aged Children
• Help care for the family pet.
• Putting their clothes away in their room.
• Picking up their room.
• Helping to put dishes away.

• Stripping and making the bed.
• Sweeping the floors.
• Vacuuming.
• Taking out the trash.
• Dusting.

• Doing the dishes.
• Laundry.
• Mowing the yard.
• Washing the car.
• Cleaning the bathroom.

Judy M. Miller is a freelance writer living in the Midwest with her husband and four children. She is a Certified Gottman Educator and the author of What To Expect From Your Adopted Tween and Writing to Heal Adoption Grief: Making Connections & Moving Forward.

Guest Contributor