Oh, family chores. Do you remember them as a kid? Chores were the culprit of many of my most frustrating moments with my parents. They were also a challenge at times with children I used to nanny. Teaching kids to help, how to value and take care of their things, etc is so important, yet it can be a major headache.
The number one mistake I see parents making with family chores is just that: making helping a chore. When chores are a negative thing, kids dread them and naturally rebel.
However, it’s possible for chores to become something more. They can make children feel accomplished, teach them new skills, help them play an active part in the family. Chores can even be fun.
Here are 7 tips for how to teach kids to do chores without complaining
1. Start teaching kids to help and do chores as young as possible
The best way to introduce chores is to start as young as possible. Toddlers especially LOVE being big helpers. They are in a phase of their development where they have a strong desire to learn and to be independent. Let them help where they can.
My little guy started wanting to help with dishes around 12 months. Teaching him what was safe for him to grab, and allowing him to help has paid off in the long run.
Now that he is 18 months, he is excellent at unloading the dishwasher. He hands me all of the dishes from the bottom rack, and then I hand him the dishes from the top rack to put into a drawer that holds all of the kid dishes. It’s something he looks forward to and asks to do every day.
More recently, he has started wanting to help carry groceries in and to help push the vacuum. As he gets older, these chores will be easier for all of us as he becomes more independent in doing them, and as he continues to offer help and learn new things.
2. Never forget gratitude for doing their chores
Gratitude is easy with babies and toddlers. When kids are learning something new, and offering their loving help, it’s so easy to recognize the love in their hearts as they give and contribute. We thank them, we praise them, we tell them what a good helper they are.
For some reason, however, this doesn’t seem to come as naturally as kids get older. As parents, we begin to expect the help they so lovingly give. Many of us believe that it’s everyone’s duty to pull their weight in the family. This is fair, but help often becomes an expectation instead of a gift…which leaves a begrudging giver.
We must remember to show gratitude even as our children get older. We must remember to look for the good, and graciously acknowledge it. If we remember gratitude, we will invite more of what we want into our lives. If we remember to thank and praise our children like we did when they were little, we will inspire their little hearts to continue to give.
3.Teach them to clean up as they go
My mom taught me to clean up as I go, and it’s a trick that was an absolute lifesaver as a nanny.
All of the kids I watched over the years knew that when they were with me, there was always a rule that they had to clean up as they go.
Usually, they were only allowed to get one bin of toys out at a time. Of course, they could mix toys if they wanted to. But, if they were playing with legos and had obviously moved on to play with cars instead, they had to go back and clean up the legos before continuing to play with the cars.
Most kids would tell me they wanted to save the game for later. I would remind them that they were always welcome to bring it out again later if they wanted to, but that usually never happened.
Doing this left the house pretty neat and tidy most of the time, and the mess was always easy for the kids to clean up when they were done. I also think it’s a great habit to carry into adulthood and will help them build habits of being clean and orderly.
4.Teach them to clean up before bedtime
There is nothing like waking up to a clean house. It allows everybody to start a fresh day on the right foot without having to worry about cleaning up yesterday’s mess.
Teach your kids to clean up before bedtime. Have each person put their things away around the house, quickly clean up their bedroom floor, etc.
Making this a habit will help your home feel neat and orderly. And on top of that, there won’t be as many chores to get done in the first place.
When things need to get done around the house, it’s a good idea to offer choices for how the kids can help. When kids get to actively choose what they want to do, they do it much more willingly. Read more about this here.
First, pick some ways to help that feel acceptable to you. Then, offer your kid a choice for what they want to help with. I guarantee your child will do the chore much more willingly.
6. Make it Fun to Do Your Chores
There are so many ways to make chores fun: set a timer, make it a competition, come up with a reward to work towards, turn on some music and dance while you clean, etc.
Making chores a fun thing will train your child’s brain to see chores as a positive thing rather than a negative one.
7.Give them Something to Look Forward to After Doing Their Chores
Try rewarding help in different ways.
One thing one of the families I used to nanny for would do was something called fun Friday. Every Friday, if everything in the house was taken care of, we would go out to do something fun together. The kids would take turns. choosing the activity or treat.
Another way to reward chores is by offering an allowance. I think it’s good to offer an allowance for some chores because it teaches kids about money. They learn that hard work can pay off, and you can begin teaching them about saving their money, using their money to help people or to buy gifts for others, etc.
Teaching kids how to help and make it fun will pay off in the long run. Teaching them valuable skills early on makes it easier for them to create good habits. It also sets them up for success as adults. It will take a lot of the pressure off you too as your children begin to get older and take responsibility or their living space as well. Starting early and making it fun will also help them to enjoy helping, which should ease tension at home.
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