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How to get kids to help around the house

10 Jul 2018

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Getting kids engaged and helping with chores has many benefits beyond the chore itself. It helps develop a strong family work ethic, improving kids' sense of responsibility, teamwork and the feeling of accomplishment once a job's done.

But that doesn't necessarily make it easy to get kids engaged and doing chores. Here are a few tips that can help:

Be age appropriate

Toddlers and preschoolers want to do what big people do. Use that enthusiasm to get them started, even if their 'helping' means more work for you. With primary school-aged kids keep your expectations low and be at peace with imperfection. In the book, How to raise an adult, Julie Lythcott-Haims highlights “It’s no fun for them if you ask them to do something and then micromanage every step. They won’t do it as well or as efficiently as you—accept that—but they’ll get better and better over time.”

Tweens and early teens should be given the opportunity to be pro-active. Ask them to anticipate next steps rather than waiting to be told what to do next.

Older teens can do just about any job an adult does – yet we still often treat them as if they can't. Let them assemble that new piece of furniture or re-organise the garage, so they can look back and feel that sense of accomplishment.

Work alongside them

Instead of giving out the orders while you kick back. Being part of a team is motivation in itself, and your family should be a team.

Give them some autonomy

Bossiness isn't a motivator. Instead of dictating to kids a set of orders, make gentler suggestions that allow them some input into how (or when) a task is to be done.

For instance "It'd be great if you…. When do you think you could do that by?".

Your kids will own the task more if they feel they've had some say in it, and it’ll preserve their feeling of self-reliance and self-assurance.

Challenge them

Taking away difficult tasks can make chores even more boring. So if a child's already used to helping out on something – cleaning a pet cage for instance – make it harder by getting them to clean it all by themselves. Then, challenge them to clean it faster.

Thank them

Remembering there's no need to overdo the praise. A gold star isn't necessary for folding a shirt.

About getting paid

Money can be a good motivator as kids get older, though many parenting books suggest kids shouldn't be paid for routine chores. One solution is to keep the pay for those jobs that are above and beyond the basics. What constitutes the basics versus above and beyond is up to you. But being reasonable is key.

Now, who’s job is it to stack and unstack the dishwasher? Here’s some tips and tricks for getting the most out of every dish wash cycle.