Chores and kids don’t always mix. Whether it’s the two-year-old that loves to dump out ALL the toys or the tween who whines worse than a 3-year-old you may find yourself struggling to get kids to lend a hand. What’s a parent to do?
We called in some help. We interviewed Gregg Murset, father of six and founder of My Job Chart, a free chore app about how you can get your kids to do their chores.
How To Get Your Kids To Do Chores
Q&A with Gregg Murset
Q: How much work is appropriate at each age?
A: It really depends upon the child and what the parent thinks is appropriate. Obviously, the older the child the more he/she can handle.
Kelly’s note: We include some ideas to get you started here.
Q: What’s a good first chore?
A: We have always said if you are old enough to take clothes or toys out, you are old enough to put them away. In this case, a child might be younger than 5.
Kelly’s note: We started as soon as they were able to grasp the concept of putting away. I’m not sure how many choruses of ‘Clean up, clean up’ I sang, but it was a LOT.
Q: Is it okay to have kids do chores and not pay them an allowance because they should be chipping in around the house?
A: Yes, but why not begin to teach your children something they will learn as they grow up – do a good job and get rewarded. Would any adult be happy with not being paid though they are expected to work? If giving money is the issue, provide them with a different incentive – extra TV time, picking dinner for a night, fun-minutes that can be used for staying up later, extra time in a toy store or playing with friends.
Kelly’s note: You can always add-on extra chores for payment. They can meet the minimum and stop, or they can do extra to earn money.
Q: Should I pay my kids for extra chores not regular ones?
A: That is really a parenting decision but why not make the most of the opportunity to teach them a lesson they will come across later in life … doing extra often pays off in bonuses, raises and promotions.
Kelly’s note: I like Gregg’s line of thinking here. It’s often true extra work pays off. Read more about chores and allowance here.
Q: What is a good age to start giving chores?
A: We generally target 5 as an age to begin assigning jobs. However, we have heard from some parents who have children younger than 5 already learning responsibility, accountability and managing money.
Kelly’s note: 5 is a great age if you haven’t started already.
Q: Should chores be daily or weekly?
A: What you are trying to teach is responsibility and accountability, so it really depends on what you have assigned. Some jobs need to be done daily – tending to pets, brushing teeth, getting dressed. Others are weekly – mowing grass, dusting the home, bringing dirty clothes to the laundry room. We suggest having some of both and set the time/days so a routine can be learned.
Kelly’s note: We have both daily and weekly chores, as well as some that are occasional (deep cleaning their rooms for instance). See what some chores are we assign here.
Q: My kids lack motivation. We talk about teamwork, but they just don’t listen and aren’t motivated to help out. Any suggestions?
A: Without knowing what else you discuss, it’s hard to suggest just one thing. If you don’t want to provide allowance, then try motivating them with the other “non-money” things I have suggested or try making it into a competition. I have done that with my kids and the thought of being beat out by a brother/sister is a great motivator.
Kelly’s note: Introducing competition may work or backfire depending on your kids. Another idea is to motivate them with screen time. No screens until they’ve done their chores.
Q: How do you manage accountability? As parents we’re already busy-how do we stay on top of their checklists and make sure their tasks are completed. Example: The kids are supposed to put away their laundry and pick up/hang discarded clothes. I just had to remind my son to put them ON hangers, as opposed to just piling them the hooks… I’m likely going to forget to check their closets because I have ***no time*** to check closets today.
A: I understand … Parents are busy and the last thing we want is to learn that we asked for something to be done and it’s not. Can I ask … what happens when you check and you see that it’s not done right? I’m not sure the age of your kids so it’s hard to make recommendations, but what do you do when you give them a job and then they don’t complete it right?
Kelly’s note: It may work best to have them check off a checkbox-a dry erase board in a central location will work well for this. If you check and see they didn’t really do their job, but checked off the box they’re docked/owe screen time or even have to pay back money to you.
Q: How do I get tweens and teens to do chores without whining and fits? I swear they’re worse than 3 year olds.
A: This is very common, but to be honest, we have heard from so many parents in the same position who have started rewarding jobs well done through putting money in the child’s bank account and giving the child the responsibility of using their money for buying things they want. I have six kids and this has worked with each of them.
Kelly’s note: If it’s financially challenging to use money to reward a job well done consider other alternatives like staying up late, extra screen time, a ride to/from someplace, or some other incentive that makes sense for you all.
Q: How do we move away from rewards? Instead of bribing my kid to do stuff I want him to take responsibility without expectations of rewards.
A: This is a huge area of debate among parents. I really believe the first thing that has to change is the thought that we are bribing kids to do stuff. Why not treat it as it’s their job and you are paying them a wage? Why not begin to give your kids a taste of what it’s like in your world where you need to work to get paid in order to buy things? Having them learning this responsibility can lead to them learning about earning, saving and sharing (basics of money). They certainly won’t learn this in school.
Kelly’s note: Gregg makes a valid point. Changing the script from ‘rewards’ to ‘your earnings’ may make sense for your family.
Have any additional questions about chores? Leave them in the comments.