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How to Get Kids to do Housework

Getting kids to perform household chores can be like pulling teeth. And there’s good reason: they’re boring. The satisfaction of clean dishes isn’t really an enticement — for kids or adults!

The bad news: Chores have to get done. The good news: We know a few ways to make getting your kids in on the action a little easier.


Chores teach life skills. They help kids develop accountability, responsibility and humility. Kids also learn that life requires a little elbow grease. Chores are more than a means for helping out; chores and schoolwork are vital ways for your child to learn about work ethic. By taking out the trash, putting away groceries and unloading the dishwasher, kids learn how the world — and adulthood — works.


Make Chores Routine

Set aside a time each week for the entire family to do chores together. Then there isn’t a question about when chores get done. Your kid knows that every Saturday morning, this is what the family does. And no one feels as if they’re missing out or being punished by having to complete their tasks. It’s just chore time.

Make Chores Visual

Some chores need to be performed every day, others just once a week. Post a chart on the fridge with a column for each day of the week and the chores each kid is responsible for. That way, the entire family can see the chores and which ones have been completed. If an app is more your family’s style, there are some that track chores assigned and completed.

Add Variety

Rotate chores rather than make kids do the same ones all the time. This way, your children will become competent in several different areas and you won’t be accused of favoritism.

Be Realistic

If your son knows you sneak into his room to straighten the clothes in his dresser after he put them away, he might as well leave it for you to do. Praise will help build your child’s confidence and make chore time less stressful.

Time Them

Timing is a good way to get your child to comply with doing chores. Give them 20 minutes, give or take, to complete a task. If that deadline isn’t met, reduce their screen time. Now there’s a cost associated with lollygagging. On the flip side, a reward can be given for finishing on time — they can stay up 20 minutes later or get 20 more minutes on their devices. The reward system means your child won’t lose anything if he or she doesn’t get it done, but they’ll gain something if they do. That kind of reward system is always more motivational.

Offer an Allowance

Money is a pretty good motivator for just about everyone, including kiddos. Link your child’s allowance to their chores. If your child has to be told more than once, subtract say a dollar (or something you deem reasonable). And each time you remind him, he loses another dollar. It’s also appropriate to give that part of his allowance to a sibling who performs the chore instead. Just watch how quickly they snap to when that option’s on the table.

Don’t Use Chores as Punishment

The only time chores as punishment is appropriate is if your child does something wrong to another sibling. And to make amends, they do that sibling’s chore for them.

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