How to Get Your Kids to Do Their Chores

Chores should never be viewed as a kid’s responsibility or duty to the family. It would never work as a strategy to convince your kids to do chores simply because they’re children, and children should not be held responsible for the household nor given a duty unless that duty is to save the world from destruction by their evil stuffed animals.

But, of course, doing chores and helping around the house are good life skills that we want our children to learn and be comfortable doing. As adults, we view chores as a necessity, and we force these views onto our children even though they don’t understand them quite yet. We end up having an argument with our kids over their procrastination and unwillingness to do their chores. What we need to realize is that the reason kids don’t want to do chores is the exact reason why adults don’t want to do chores: IT’S BORING!

Most adults do it because they have to and not because they want to. But there are a few ways to get your kids to learn and do these basic life lessons with fewer complaints and arguments.

Lead by Example

Do not use threats, ultimatums, or punishment as a means of getting them to clean up after themselves. This will only make matters worse and increase the chances that they’ll rebel against you. Lead by example and start showing them that you clean up after yourself and let them understand that they should do the same. Make them understand the concept of “Clean as you go”, like taking your dishes to the sink after eating or putting your clothes in the laundry basket. This will ultimately leave fewer chores as the family recognizes that cleaning up after is also a part of every activity.

Be Clear About What Chores You Expect from Your Children

Make sure the chore is relevant to their age and abilities. You shouldn’t ask your preteen to clean the gutters; that’s dad’s chore. Set up a visual guide or chore charts for the family and assign chores to each member. Make sure every member has an equal share of chores. Also, be sure that the chores you expect from the kids are actually household chores and not just pointless tasks to keep them busy. If the child is too young for most household tasks, helping with another task is an excellent way to teach life skills.

Give Them Responsibility and Autonomy in Completing Tasks

Don’t hover over their shoulders like a paranoid drill sergeant. These are kids’ chores that should be completed at a kid’s pace. Set a particular time when the tasks should be finished and leave it up to them. This would also give you an opportunity to teach responsibility and accountability and teach them to understand the negative consequences of not completing their task on time. If the chore is unfinished by the time it should be, ask them what happened and how they think they could do the job better and quicker. Of course, give them the opportunity to ask for an extension to finish the chore, but be firm about the extension. 

Have Them Do Their Chores for the Day Before They Can Have Any Screen Time

With setting up the list of chores, make the kids understand that the chores should be done before they get to chill and do their hobbies. Just like adults, we look forward to doing our tasks as efficiently as possible so we can go home, relax, and do the things we enjoy. It is also the same for our kids; screen time or playtime serves as a great motivation and reward for doing chores.

Set a time for when a particular chore should be done.

Of course, there are some chores that need to be done at a particular time and finished before anything else can take place. Setting the table for a meal and clearing the table are some of the chores that have a specific time to do. Regular chores like these are recurring, and it’s best to have a chore list wheel for these routine tasks.

Praise them when they do something well.

Much like you and me, we feel good about ourselves when we are praised for an excellent job after accomplishing our adult responsibilities. It is the same for kids; make sure we commend them for a job well done with every bit of task they do. This would also show them that their efforts are appreciated and that you are thankful for their help. Being appreciated would motivate them to do the tasks again. Just make sure to be consistent in praising their efforts and be aware of their capabilities.

Negotiate with your kids about how many chores there will be each day.

Sit down with your kids and ask them how many additional chores they could do. This would also be an excellent chance to teach them about taking charge and earning. Just like you would ask your boss or client for extra pay or an increase for added tasks, kids should have the opportunity to ask for additional positive reinforcement. Some kids would negotiate an extra allowance for chores, while some ask for extra electronics time. Now, be aware that we are negotiating extra chores and not the basic chores they do on a daily basis.

Make it a family affair.

Some chores could be done as a family. Doing the laundry can be broken down into smaller simpler tasks that could be done as a family. Get the kids to sort the laundry and have them there with you as you do the laundry. For other chores where the kids are too young for the steps, have them assist you with steps like pressing the buttons on the washing machine or turning on the tap for the hose when you are washing the car.

The tips above are not concrete and would not work for everybody, so be flexible. There is no one size fits all solution to parenting or teaching children anything. We know that every kid is different, and some parents may have other tricks up their sleeves on how to teach basic life skills and get their kids to do chores. If this post helped, we would appreciate it if you share it with us so we can help more families! So please leave us a comment with what works in your house and share these ideas with other parents who need some help getting through to those kids. Have yourself a great day!



I'm a Mom of two daughters, Freya and Ava. I love to share insights on how parents can be better parents. I write about topics that are relevant to me as a parent: things like parenting style, relationship, marriage, and balancing work and family.

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