How to get kids to help out around the house

Running a household takes cooperation and shared responsibilities from every family member. Just like parents and guardians, a child is part of a family. As a child grows, they can contribute time and effort to help with the family workload. Working together will foster fairness and commitment while strengthening a family’s bond.

Start early

Toddlers love to help their parents. Parents should seize their enthusiasm and give their children small and simple tasks. As young as 2 or 3-years-old, a child can learn to put away toys, put dirty clothes in the hamper, and wipe up spills. Start small and build up their chores as they grow. A few years later, a child who is 4 or 5 years of age can empty wastebaskets, water plants, and bring in the mail.

School-aged kids

As a child grows, so should their responsibilities. Begin by asking your child what chores would they like to do. Let them suggest some chores that interest them. It’s more likely they will do them instead of putting them off.

If a kid takes the initiative and wants to wash the dishes, but a parent is concerned with their child handling sharp utensils or heavy pots, a good compromise is leaving the questionable items for a parent to clean, still allowing washing dishes to be one of their chores. When making it a group discussion, your kids will have more ownership in the process, so it’s more likely they will get their chores done.

Be specific

A general chore like “clean your room” is vague. It can lead to many different interpretations of what should be done. Give clear directions like make your bed, put away toys, and place dirty clothes in the hamper. Knowing specific details will keep everyone’s expectations the same.

Give guidance

Sorting clothes, peeling vegetables, or unloading the dishwasher can be overwhelming tasks if a child has never performed them. Ease your child into a new chore by showing them how to do it. Let your child do it while you supervise. Once your child is comfortable, let them go solo.

Don’t insist on perfection

Have a relaxed approach. There are multiple ways to fold a shirt. Your child’s way might not be your way. You don’t want to discourage them just because it’s different. Resist jumping in and taking over for your child– this will undermine the whole point. Who knows? Your child could fold your shirt a new way and you might like it.

Give praise and gentle reminders

Recognize and encourage your kid when you find they are taking the initiative to tackle a chore without any prompting. Praise them for the effort, not just when a task has been completed. Building positive momentum along the way will increase the chances of a good outcome for all.

A family is a team and it’s essential for everyone to work together to get the many responsibilities accomplished around the house. There are many important life skills to learn like knowing how to wash the dishes, do laundry, and how to cook simple meals. When the day comes for a kid to head off to college, they will be equipped with the skills to know how to take care of themselves.

Photo Credit: Twenty20/Darby

This story was written for CharlotteFive’s latest channel for parents in the QC, called QC Playground. Sign up for the weekly QC Playground newsletter here.