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If you’ve decided to get your kids to help out around the house, but haven’t quite worked out how to actually do that, help is here. Check out our top seven tips to get kids to do chores (and on the road to success).

Start early

Kathy, mom to a 3-year-old girl and 5-year-old boy, says, “My kids take dirty clothes to the laundry room, make their beds, put clean clothes away, help set the table, put dirty dishes in the sink, feed the cat and bunnies, check the henhouse for eggs, take the compost out, clean up their toys and vacuum occasionally. They still need reminders, modeling and direction, of course, but mostly they think chores are fun.” Even kids as young as two can help out around the house (and/or the henhouse!), so don’t wait. The earlier you start, the easier chores are to introduce. Figure out which chores your kid’s ready for with our helpful age-appropriate chores list. 

Add a little entertainment

Once you’ve done them over and over again, chores can get boring. But there are things you can do to up the fun factor: Time your five-year-old to see how fast they can bring in the mail. Challenge your toddler to play toy-bin basketball with their blocks. Ask your little one to teach you the song they sing at preschool at cleanup time, then belt it out together when it’s time to tidy up at home. Let your kid choose a song to put on while they do a chore.

Live with imperfection

Kids won’t wipe every crumb off the table or make their bed with crisp hospital corners. But as much as you may be tempted to get in there and fix it, resist the urge. Nothing robs kids of the joy of learning something new and contributing to the family like someone doing it over again. In fact, as they get older, you may want to let them trade in chores they’ve mastered, like folding towels, for something more complex, like packing their lunch. That can help keep them engaged — and building skills as they grow up.

Don’t boss them — train them

Speaking of which, if just tell them “make your lunch,” don’t expect anything other than a lunchbox full of cookies. Instead, approach every new skill like this: First, show them how to do it. (“We pack  a vegetable, a fruit, a protein and a grain.”) Next, do it with them. (“What do you want your veggie to be tomorrow? Let me help you cut those carrots.”) And finally, once they’ve learned the drill and can handle food prep on their own, set them loose to do it themselves.

Make their jobs predictable

Kids thrive on routine, so let them know what they’re expected to do and when. For example, you might require their bed to be made and their room to be picked up before school. However, within that structure, you can give them choices, such as “Do you want to make your bed before or after breakfast?” For less frequent tasks, such as emptying wastebaskets or folding laundry, you may want to put the tasks on a household calendar hung where they can see it so they know what to expect ahead of time.  

Turn chores into a family affair

“I’ve tried incentives, no electronics until chores are done, schedules … but the most effective motivation has been to set a family cleaning day,” says Deron, dad to a 10-year-old girl. “Everyone does their job at the same time and no one feels like it’s a punishment.” This also works for daily chores. While your kid makes their bed, you make yours. When they set the table, you get dinner ready. That way, everyone can see everyone else helping out too. That said, if you do a chore together, such as unloading the dishwasher, give them their own discrete part of the task (for example, putting away the silverware). That way, they feel ownership over the task and proud when they complete it.

Praise them for their work

While you don’t need to pay your kid for helping out around the house, your appreciation goes a long way. When they do chores well and without reminders (yes, it happens!), thank them for working hard to help the family.

 

Inspire your kids to help out (and rock out while they’re at it):

Watch this music video for our original song, “Shape Up, Chip In,” available on the Q Wunder app: