Examples of chores and routine charts
Active Kids,  Behavior,  Parenting,  Social Emotional Learning

14 Tips on How To Get Kids to Do Chores (No Nagging or Chasing!)

Looking for ways to get your kids to do chores without complaining? Check out these helpful tips and strategies.

Most parents are very clear that kids should have their own chores.

There are many reasons why kids should have household chores:

  • It boosts their sense of competence and helps build their self-esteem.
  • Chores participation is associated with the development of pro-social behavior.
  • It promotes independence.
  • It helps them learn important life skills.
  • It helps develop a sense of accomplishment, responsibility, effort, and discipline
  • It may create a sense of collaboration and belonging (teamwork)

But even when we are crystal clear about how important it is to get our kids to participate in the household chores, the implementation may be a real power struggle.

So, how do we get kids to do chores without nagging?

Best Tips and Strategies to Convince your Kids to Do Chores

What is the best way to get them on board without resorting to constant reminders, or worse, warnings and ultimatums?

The following strategies will help you motivate your kids with their daily chores:

1. Choose Age-Appropriate Chores (or Developmentally Appropriate)

It’s never too early to start. Young kids can do simple tasks like taking their plates from the table or putting dirty clothes in the basket.

And, research actually tells us that you shouldn’t wait too long!

Dr. Marty Rossman determined that the best predictor of young adults’ success in their mid-20s was that they participated in household tasks at the age of three or four.

Don’t wait too late to start your kids on chores. Another of the conclusions was that those who did not begin to participate until they were 15 or 16 were less successful (Source: Highlights on Rossmann work from the College of Education and Human Development, University of Minnesota)

Identify household chores that one can reasonably entrust to a child.

It is important not to give children a task that is too difficult, so as not to discourage them.

Before I share a few examples of age-appropriate chores for different age brackets, let me emphasize the developmental aspect over the age aspect. 

Our eldest kid had a developmental delay. Most regular chores that were age-appropriate were not developmentally appropriate. So, just follow your child’s lead on this, and assign tasks that are a good fit for them.

Examples of age-appropriate tasks by age group:

  • From 3 to 6 years old: (before and during kindergarten): Setting the table, watering the plants, feeding the pets, putting socks in pairs, raking the garden, putting away toys, putting away shoes, putting used clothes in the laundry basket.
  • From 7 to 9 years old: pulling up the bedclothes, tidying up their room (with little help), sweeping, laying the table, cleaning up the table after meals, preparing their school bag.
  • From 10 to 12 years old: taking out the rubbish, tidying up their room (all on their own), making the bed, folding their own clothes.
  • From 13 to 15 years old: vacuuming, changing the sheets, hanging out the laundry, doing the dishes, mowing the lawn, or cooking.

2. Promote “Chores Play”

This is a great tip if you have very young children.

Children like to imitate their parents: miniature kitchens, craft workbenches, and cleaning sets. Imitation toys encourage them to do as we do. So enjoy it! Involve your children in cleaning. They will be proud to be like the grown-ups.

3. Set Clear Expectations

Example of a chore chart with illustration to help kids clean their room

Be specific; define clearly what is the expected outcome for that chore. I’m sure your kid and you may have different interpretations of what is a tidy room.

When you say “tidy your room”, you may be meaning make the bed, put toys away, books on shelves, nothing on the floor, desk clear, etc.

Your kid may be thinking put the dirty socks I left on the floor in the laundry basket.

It is also a good idea to set expectations around when and how long the kid’s chores will take.

4. Explain Why Chores Are Important for Kids

I’m a firm believer that we have to explain the why if we want anybody (children included) to buy into anything that is going to require time and effort.

I’ve explained in the introduction many of the reasons why children should have chores.

Use them to create a child-friendly explanation about the valuable life skills that performing daily tasks promote.

5. Consider Starting with a Small Task

If you have a chore-reluctant child, you may choose to start with just one simple chore and a time limit, instead of trying to create a full schedule.

6. Make Sure the Whole Family Participates

Chores are a family team effort. Make sure everybody is doing chores, also younger siblings.

You don’t want to start a battle about why [a named sibling] doesn’t help and I always have to do extra chores.

7. Practice What you Preach / Set a Good Example

Make sure the adults in the family are good role models. It won’t be a good example if you have to chase your partner to do their chores.

8. Make chores fun!

When my daughter was in kindergarten, they always used to sing a “clean up” song when they started putting away their toys.

I can’t remember the exact lyrics (and it was anyway in Spanish, because we were based in Spain at that time) but it was something like “let’s tidy up, let’s tidy up so that tomorrow everything is ready to start playing again”.

So, think about ways to make everyday chores fun and engaging.

Can you turn daily chores into a game or a challenge?  Can you sing while you clean up? Can you chat about something interesting? Can you create a contest or a challenge? (Tidiest room, fastest cleaner)

Examples of family charts like chore chart, morning routine, backpack checklist

9. Make Chores Part of your Child’s Daily Routine

Incorporating chores into your child’s routine will help develop habits.

I’m sure you probably have fixed days for many of the chores you do yourself (Saturday you wash linen, Sunday do the week’s shopping…).

One of the lessons parents learn early on is that kids thrive in routines and structure.

So, you may as well establish routines around chores implementation.

10. Use a Chore Chart

A chore chart is a list of household chores that need to be done and who is responsible for each task. It is a great way to display every family member’s responsibilities and set specific dates and times for those tasks.

For younger kids, you can use icons or illustrations that identify the task.

These family charts may help you organize responsibilities, help with chores (easy-to-follow steps and fun illustrations) and make the activities more fun.

11. Use a Teenager’s Behavior Contract

If you are struggling to engage your older children in household responsibilities, you may consider a behavior contract.

A behavior contract is a written agreement between two parties that captures:

  • the commitment to achieve a measurable specific behavior or task (in this case, household chores)
  • the consequences of the success or failure to accomplish the specified behavior.

A teen behavior contract is a great parenting tool and a helpful resource to address new behaviors in older kids.

12. Incorporate your Kids in the Decision-Making

Give your kids some choices and let them decide. It will help them feel more independent and in control.

It’s not the same to do things because we are pushed to do them than to feel we have chosen to do them. 

Intrinsic motivation is important, and we are more likely to feel it if we have participated in the process and committed to the tasks.

For example, if you are using a chore chart, involve your children in the chart creation so they will feel more motivated to complete their assigned chores.

Or, organize a family meeting, write down the household chore list, and decide collectively what jobs each member could take on.

13. Praise their Good Job and their Efforts

Make sure to thank and praise your kids for their hard work and contribution to the household.

Praising is one of the most powerful tools that we have when we wish to promote new habits and behaviors.

Research on behavior modification has clearly established that a behavior that is followed by a positive consequence (in this case your praise) is more likely to happen again in the future.

And, a parent’s praise is more powerful than most of the rewards that you can think of.

14. Consider a Reward System

Examples of reward charts for kids

A reward system can be one of the easiest and most effective methods to motivate children of any age.

Behaviors don’t occur randomly. The consequences that follow our kids’ behavior affect its future occurrence.

Rewards work because behaviors followed by a favorable result (reinforcement) are more likely to happen in the future.

So, consider offering small rewards or incentives (positive consequences) for completing chores, such as extra screen time, a favorite treat or takeaway, a fun outing, or a later bedtime during the weekend.

Warning here. There is a right and wrong way of offering rewards (you are rewarding, not bribing)

I have very detailed resources on this topic, so if you wish to learn how to implement a reward system in an effective way, I highly recommend the following articles:

Other Family Resources

Examples of family routine charts like morning routine, backpack checklist, meal tracker, daily schedule

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