How To Get Your Young Children Involved in Chores
Sometimes I like to write about things I am not very good at -- things that I know I should be doing, things I know a lot about, but for some reason I can’t make happen in my life or home. For some reason, writing about those things seems to boost my accountability and help me get my own booty in gear. So my topic for today: chores with the kids.
My kids actually enjoy helping me clean up, and I know what works and doesn’t work for them, but I’ve been terrible at keeping them and myself accountable. So lately I’ve just been doing it all myself, and this mama is tired! I figured it’s time to bust out the chore charts again! This is how I’ll be addressing chores in my house. I hope that you’ll find a few of these tips helpful!
Keep Chores Age Appropriate
Keeping jobs small and simple for little hands will be in your best interest. Things like getting dressed, picking up toys, and taking dishes to the sink can all be considered chores for small helpers. As your child gets older, you can expect them to start doing things independently, but until they are able to do those things, any specified “help” can be considered a chore! My kids love “helping” me, and while it doesn’t always make my job easier, it has helped ease them into more formal chores as they’ve gotten older.
Make it a Family Affair
Chores are always more fun when everyone is involved. Formal chores can feel like punishment to a kid. It's easy to use threats like, “Go clean up your toys, or we’ll just go to bed now.” But that, my friends, is not good motivation at all! However, when I’ve made chores something that everyone can do together, I often get a much better response and turn out. In the mornings, I will start cleaning up breakfast and tidying the kitchen, and I will ask my littles to go make their beds while mommy cleans up. Since everyone is involved, it doesn’t seem so burdensome to them. They react similarly in the evening when I ask everyone to pitch in and clean up the common areas and toy room! No one skips out, and everyone helps until it's finished!
Keep Them Coming
Keep chores part of the regular routine. Children thrive on routine! They are much more likely to respond well to something when they are already expecting it. Whether it’s a chore chart or checklist, making your expectations visibile will give your child stability and make things easier for both of you. Small daily chores are perfect for this -- picking up toys before bed, making the bed in the morning -- all of these are chores that are usually required daily. They’re perfect for keeping the routine and making sure kids are in the daily habit of cleaning up.
My kids are little, so small rewards work like a charm for me. After evening clean up, our kids get to watch an episode of their favorite show before bed. After morning chores, they get a snack. Both of these were already on my agenda for the day, but the incentive is just enough to motivate my kids. Maybe for you it’s a family movie night or a treat from the store on a weekly visit. Whatever it is, it’s important that it is used as an incentive, not a punishment. Reminding children what is at stake before asking them to participate in any chore is usually the key to this. Threatening to take it away, though, is often where things can go sour! In my experience, negative reinforcement hardly ever works out well.