The reason kids don’t like doing chores is the same reason adults don’t like doing chores: household tasks are generally boring. Let’s face it; the satisfaction of getting the dishes done is not a very big reward in this day and age of video games and instant gratification. While that doesn’t mean kids shouldn’t do chores, it does help to partly explain why they resist them. The best way to inspire kids is to work with their natural, intrinsic drive to be productive, even creative contributors to the household. Kids will feel like they are a part of something larger than themselves.
Now, how do we make chores more interesting and get kids to participate in household chores?
- Work as a Team. A simple and efficient way to make cleaning more fun is to do some of it together. It never hurts a kid’s morale to see a parent getting into the trenches with him. Play his favourite tunes and remember you’re there to demonstrate, so the job is more likely to get done right.
- Make chores a regular part of the family routine. Expect that everyone over the age of 3 can be responsible for certain tasks to keep the household functioning.
- Use humour to lighten the mood and to engage cooperation. A note from the family pet about being hungry might remind a child that the dog is depending on her for dinner.
- Give your children choices. Children are more likely to be responsible when they have a say in what they do or when they do it. Your child might have to take out the garbage, but he can choose whether to do it after school, after dinner, or before bedtime.
- Be a good role model and reframe your thinking about chores. Kids are watching, and they’re internalizing the message that adults send about chores. If parents approach chores as boring tasks that they avoid and resent, chances are kids will feel the same. However, if parents view chores as tasks essential to a smoothly run household and tackle them with a sense of fun and humour, kids will pick up on that.
- Be happy to help, being happy to help doesn’t mean you should always do things for children by default. It is important for children to gain a sense of their role within the family unit and not believe that their contribution is unnecessary. Most children are quite willing to help out when they are feeling good and connected so when they are having troubles tidying messes or contributing to the family home, it is worth digging deeper to explore why.