Work Infographic: How to Get Kids to Do Chores


Using Service to Help TeenagersOne of the greatest character traits parents can develop in their children is to teach them how to work. Self confidence and success in life are strongly linked to a child's ability to work. Working at home gives children very positive experiences. It helps children acquire responsibility, makes them feel an integral part of the family team, and contributes to a sense of belonging. Children learn basic skills, good habits, dependability, and self-discipline. Sometimes, however, the effort it takes to get children to do work seems too much. In our struggles to encourage our kids to do work, we become frustrated by the constant confrontation and power struggles that we are consistently faced with. It often seems easier just to do the work ourselves, in spite of what our children might lose.

Some parents might decide not to emphasize work at home for other reasons. Perhaps they were required to take on a significant load when they were children and want to spare their own kids the effort. Maybe they believe that childhood is a time to be carefree or that children are incapable of taking on any responsibility. Perhaps parents feel they don't have the time to teach their children the necessary skills to do work correctly and well, and it is easier to do a task themselves than to wait patiently as their children learn. Regardless of the reasons parents use to free their children from the responsibilities associated with work, they are actually doing more harm than good when they do not teach children to work. Children who have never been required to work in their homes miss out in many valuable areas of life.

So what can parents do to teach their children the value of work? How can they resolve the struggles that seem to endlessly arise when work needs to be done? While every child is different and will need individual attention, these five tips are a great start to getting your children to do work.

1. Organize your family's work.

Organization is a key to making work easier and habitual. There are several things you can do to organize your home and family work.

  1. Keep cleaning supplies and work tools in specific places.
    It makes work very difficult if you have to hunt for the necessary equipment. Children might also become discouraged if they can't reach the supplies they need. Consider installing short shelves with special supplies just for your young children or low clothing rods for children to easily put away their clothes.

  2. Establish deadlines for when the work must be completed.
    If breakfast is not served until everyone's beds are made, children will be motivated to complete their assigned tasks.

  3. Make lists of jobs for each family member.
    This organization will let every family member see exactly what is required of them. Your family might try a job wheel with certain daily or weekly chores listed in a circle. Each family member's name can be written on a rotating wheel, allowing everyone to do different tasks and avoid boredom.

2. Be consistent.

It is extremely important that your children understand what you expect of them and that they will not be able to change your mind. They will learn that arguing is futile if you are firm in your decision to have them work. An important part of this is that you have determined in your own mind what you want for your children. If you are unsure, your children will learn this very quickly and find ways to avoid doing their work. Soon you will find the family has established a routine.

3. Try encouraging with an incentive.

Young children especially need incentives because they cannot see the immediate value of work. Use a wide variety of enjoyable rewards, such as baking a favorite dessert together, going outside to play, inviting a friend over, going to the swimming pool, or going out for ice cream. How you phrase the incentive is important. Say: "When your bedroom is picked up and vacuumed, we'll invite your friend over," NOT "If you clean your room, you can invite your friend over."

4. Make the work fun and check your own attitude toward work.

If you view work as a chore and express that view often, your children will quickly adopt a similar attitude. On the other hand, if work is looked at in a positive light and made fun, children will learn to view work positively. Use your imagination to think of entertaining ways to get the job done. The following are some games you can use to make work more fun for children:

  • Give your child a hand puppet to wear and give commands to while picking up toys.
  • Set a timer and see if your children can complete a task before it buzzes. Or turn on a song and see if they can finish a job before the song ends.
  • Play taxi. When you call for a taxi, your children run to you and are given a quick task.
  • Make cleaning a guessing game. For example, have one child leave the room while the other picks up five things. Then the first child can try to guess which objects were picked up.

5. Let your children know you appreciate their work.

Be very positive about their efforts. Pay close attention to the extra things they do, especially when it is voluntary. Say more positive things than negative things about their work, even if you are frustrated. Help them feel good about their work and the finished products. You might express your appreciation in thank you notes or by letting them overhear you telling someone else about the great job they did.


What have you found that works well in your family to get kids to work?

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Infographic: How to Get Kids to do Chores & Develop Good Work Habits


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