How to Encourage Kids to Help With Chores

March 17, 2021

Does getting your kids to pitch in with chores feel like pulling teeth? If so, you’re not alone, and the chaos of the pandemic has certainly added to the disarray in lots of households.

Thankfully, spring provides the perfect boost of motivation. It’s time to open the windows, let the fresh air in and get the kids involved in some spring cleaning to usher in a new beginning.

Check out our best tips for encouraging the whole family to pitch in!


Benefits of Kids Doing Chores

You’re not the sole recipient of benefits when the kids help with chores. They gain a number of valuable life skills in the process. Just like other habits, the earlier you get them started, the better.

Here’s why: Even though cleaning may not be fun, it helps kids feel the satisfaction of successfully completing a task. They get a dose of self-sufficiency — in other words, a “can do,” proactive spirit. 

Doing chores is also a way for children to learn about taking care of their possessions, their home environment and themselves. Age-appropriate tasks give them a strong foundation for the life skills they’ll need in the future. Learning at a young age to cook, organize a space and tidy up means they’ll be prepared for college and life on their own.

The family is the first hub where a child learns teamwork. Having them contribute reduces stress levels and helps keep the family balanced. Plus, it encourages them to be helpers at their friends’ homes, at school and in the community.

Chances are, you understand all these benefits and more — but wrangling them to help out often feels more exhausting than just doing it yourself. If this dilemma sounds familiar, we’ve got some tricks up our sleeve…


How to Motivate the Youngins

Recognize their efforts

Just like adults, children need to hear that they are appreciated and that their contributions are valuable. 

Research shows that praising effort instead of natural ability makes kids feel better about overcoming future obstacles. For instance, it’s more helpful to say “I am so impressed with how you worked so hard in the garden!” than, “Wow, you have a natural green thumb.” This is because kids can internalize a fear of losing talent or natural ability. However, recognizing their determination gives them confidence that they can succeed with hard work and resilience. 

You may also want to consider giving older children an allowance or some form for fulfilling weekly tasks; this can have the dual benefit of teaching financial responsibility.  Younger kids often do well with gold stars on a chores chart, or a weekly trip to a special place like the park. You can even make “chore reward cards.”


Turn work into play!

Let’s be real: Chores are a drag for everyone. Expecting kids to want to clean is slightly unrealistic. Everyone in the family will feel better if it seems less like work and more like play. As adults, we could certainly use the reminder to lighten up.

Adding music is one easy way to keep the energy upbeat and happy. Make a family playlist or even take dance breaks. Challenge your kids to complete a task before the song is over; there’s nothing a little friendly competition to get them going.

If your kids are going through a phase, capitalize on it during the cleaning process. Maybe that means pretending to be robots or a character like Cinderella, Aladdin or Batman. Perhaps everyone is a spy or secret agent, and the goal is to complete certain tasks without being detected by other family members. Or you can have a “slam dunk” tournament while putting away laundry.


Give them choices

Allowing kids to make small choices makes them feel more independent and adult. It doesn’t have to be drastic. Simply allow them to choose between a pink or green scrub brush. Ask them which cleaning product smells the best for their room. See which room they think could use their magic touch. Write different tasks on popsicle sticks and then have them pick to add an element of surprise. Little things go a long way!


Work as a team

There’s plenty of chores that work better with a little teamwork. It doesn’t hurt that the task is more likely to get done correctly when you’re there to model the process.

Kids might complain, but they also crave the feeling of being needed just like everyone else. Remember, your kids will feel more a part of the family if they are an integral part of the “clean team”!

For more family-friendly tips, check out the CA Parents’ Corner blog.

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