As a parent, it can sometimes feel as though you are the kids’ personal maid or butler. Common spaces seem to get messy quicker than you can keep up, and it can feel like you’re fighting a losing battle. As frustrating and familiar as this scenario is, there is hope. Encouraging your children to get involved in household chores just requires a bit of patience and some creative strategies.
What Discourages Children From Helping
Children are often turned off by the idea of accepting more responsibility around the house. There are a variety of explanations for this, mostly stemming from the way kids perceive chores. Many children don’t understand the purpose of chores and why they’re important for a well-balanced house, which could be due to their lack of maturity and unclear expectations. It takes time to establish expectations for children — but it tends to take longer if parents are too busy to explain to their children the rationale behind chores.
In many households, physical labor and contributions around the house are framed as punishment. Unclear expectations combined with inconsistency in upholding rules can make kids more likely to defy a parent who is trying to set cleaning guidelines. This may also have to do with sibling involvement, as one child might feel an arrangement is unfair or try to distract another child who is on task.
To get your kids to help around the house, consider the following:
Chores for Different Age Groups
A key rule to establish is that everyone should be involved in housework. You can implement this expectation with a family meeting or chore chart, so that there is a clear outline for who is responsible for which task. It may also be helpful to allow kids to volunteer for a certain chore first, instead of forcing a child to complete a certain task. Here are some age-appropriate chore ideas for your little ones:
Chores for Toddlers and Pre-Schoolers
- Put toys where they belong
- Throw away trash
- Feed pets (with adult supervision)
- Help a parent or older sibling make the bed
Chores for Elementary School Kids
- Clean spills and messes
- Set the table
- Water the plants
- Wash or put dishes in the dishwasher
- Sweep the floors
- Help younger siblings with chores
Putting Kids to Work
Although maintaining a clean house may be at the front of your mind as a parent, remember there are emotional and mental benefits to instilling a sense of household responsibility in your child. Be realistic about your kids’ abilities and focus on their effort rather than the results. Thanking your children at the end can also show them your appreciation. When they see that you truly want the best for the household, they’ll be more likely to pitch in without being asked repeatedly.
To learn more about why it’s important for kids to contribute around the house, read the resource accompanying this post. Courtesy of Carpet Cleaning Group.