Does anyone have any ideas on how to get their kids to do their chores? Asking for a friend. This is a difficult one, isn’t it? In days of yore or twenty years ago when my first son was little, the tried and tested way to get kids to do their chores was through good old fashioned bribery. If you don’t, then you won’t was the staple.
It was handed down from my parents’ generation and to them from their parents. For so many years, the stick rather than the carrot was the approved method. The idea that if we don’t do things, there will be negative consequences has been long-reigning and positive reinforcement was an alien concept in the past.
With more people becoming aware of conscious parenting combined with the fact that positive reinforcement makes our children healthier adults, the bribery method feels a bit icky. Okay look, I’ll admit it, when I’m tired and frazzled and the lazy parenting kicks in, I’m not opposed to a good old fashioned bribe. Are any of us?
My parenting techniques have changed vastly, and my three-year-old benefits from positive reinforcement his big brother maybe didn’t get as often. Applying positive consequences and outcomes if your children do things rather than negative ones helps them to associate it as a positive experience. How does this work in practical terms without saying that if you do the dishes, I’ll give you a bar of candy? Don’t worry, we got you covered, and we’ve picked a few techniques to get your kids doing their chores, learning responsibility and enjoying themselves at the same time.
Lead by example
When your kids are little and still want to spend time with you, use that time to engage with them while you do dishes or cook or clean. Get them a footstool to dry while you wash or wash while you dry. This is a great way to talk to them about their day and school, and because their hands are busy engaging in a distraction, you might even find they share more with you.
Another top tip is to make chores a positive experience. Get up with excitement when you get up to do the dishes rather than with the weary energy you feel towards it. Make a big deal of how amazing the house looks now it’s clean and how proud you are of them.
A little goes a long way
Get them involved with you as you cook or clean, giving them a little thing to do at a time. If you’re cleaning the living room, provide them with a basket to organize. Make this an age-appropriate task. Giving them a little to do, they reap the reward of seeing the result and knowing they helped but because they only had a little to do it wasn’t overwhelming for them.
Getting kids to do chores isn’t about forcing the issue. Anything forced is resented, and we start building the negative connotations associated with chores when we try to force our kids. Instead of force use encouragement. Encourage kids to get involved at every opportunity, encourage them to join in with you and get involved in the housework. By encouraging kids to join in and participate, you make them feel a part of something.
Encouragement to join in also facilitates initiative. You want your kids to do chores without being asked if they see something messy they might go and tidy it up because they recognize that they are a part of making the house work.
Make it fun
Smaller kids and toddler do want to play all the time; they learn through play, but here’s the thing, anything can be a game. Put it to a song, add in a bit of competition, and have yourself a cleaning game. This encourages the positive association with household tasks from a young age and by the time they get to pre-teen the habits have already been built.
Collaboration is the key
I’ve always cooked with my kids. I bring the food that needs to be prepared to the table and we prep it together. It was something we all did at my grans when I was little. My gran and mum and all my aunts would all be in the kitchen prepping food together, and I loved the social aspect. I did it with my mum and sisters, and then I kept the tradition going with my kids. Even now that my oldest has moved out, when he comes home, we make food together. It is a tradition, and it’s something that you’re passing down.
The same applies to cleaning and helping around the house. You teach them to be self-sufficient by handing down habits and traditions they will share with their kids. It’s easy to forget that we’re teaching them for life when they’re so little but keeping in mind that you’re giving them life skills helps to make it a more positive experience for you too.