Teaching kids to do chores might seem like the perfect opportunity to get some extra help around the house after years of doing everything when they were infants and toddlers. But the true purpose is to give your kids valuable tools they can carry into other parts of their lives.
Doing chores can help children develop skills such as time management, self-motivation, and follow-through. Try to stay patient, and keep these tips in mind as you get started.
Consider their age and abilities.
Include toddlers and kids under the age of 5 or 6 as much as you can in your daily tasks so they can start observing the basics, but expect helpfulness to be sporadic. If your child is able to manage their own daily routines (such as brushing teeth and getting dressed for school) without too much help, this might be a good time to start thinking about teaching simple chores.
Keep in mind that all kids are different! In the beginning, tasks should be small and relevant to them, such as picking up toys in their room or rinsing their dirty plates.
Break things down step by step.
“Tidy your room” might seem like a simple enough task, but remember that young kids are still learning how to put all the steps of a task together and manage it as one. Try breaking each new chore down into lots of small steps.
For example, instead of “Tidy your room” try something like, “The dirty clothes go in the hamper, toys go in the basket, and books sit on the shelf.” Then help them think of the next step each time they complete one.
Do the chores together for a while.
Chances are, you’ll need to do chores alongside your child many times before they can remember and complete all the steps of a task themselves. After you’ve shown them the steps and done the chore with them for a while, you might still need to help them think through their tasks as they start to do them alone. Everyone needs patience and reminders sometimes!
Avoid rewards that aren’t sustainable long-term.
If you start teaching chores by using threats or bribes, over time you’ll likely find yourself in a power struggle that’s just not sustainable. Chores are a non-negotiable part of life for most people, and learning to do them as a regular part of the day instead of as a means to an end will serve your children well when they are on their own.
Over time, your child will become better at doing chores on their own and (hopefully) need less step-by-step instructions.
Many teenagers and even adults need to be reminded to do their chores though, so try to keep expectations in check as you start this process with your kids. And who knows? One day they might even thank you… right?