6 Strategies to Combat the Chore Battle

By Amanda Carter

Chores.  We know it’s important for kids to do them, but there are times when getting your children to actually do chores is more work than doing them yourself.  If you’ve had one too many of those “there has to be another way” moments, give one of these strategies a try.

1. Work together

It’s easy for kids to find reasons to complain about chores if they feel like they’re the only ones working.  The next time you assign a chore, try to find something near your child to do as well.  It doesn’t have to be the same thing; maybe you’re sweeping the entry way while they’re dusting in the living room.  Seeing you hard at work can help them realize that keeping the house tidy is a team effort.

2. Have them compete (against themselves)

Use your child’s competitive streak to your advantage.  See if they can put their clothes away in under three minutes or take out the garbage faster than they did the day before.

3. Turn on some music

Sometimes all it takes to motivate the unwilling is a fun, upbeat song.  There are several ways you can use music to help during chore time.  If your family is working  in the same area, take turns choosing what song to play.  You could also let whoever didn’t complain get to choose the Pandora station (a highly sought after right at my house.)  If nothing else, music can help drown out the complaints that your child might be muttering under their breath.

4. Pick the right chore chart

Chore charts these days everywhere.  From simple ones you can print for free to elaborate ones with magnets and vinyl letters that take days to make, there are lots of options.  Just as kids learn differently based on age and personality, they respond  differently to chore charts.  One might work best with a list that they can check off as they complete each chore while another might respond better to having a jar filled with popsicle sticks with chores written on each one that they get to choose from each day.  Experiment and see what works best for your family.

5. Be clear on expectations

A kid’s idea of what “clean” means  is rarely the same as their parents’.  Rather than nagging or sending them back over and over to finish a certain chore, let them know what you expect.  Does a clean bathroom mean scrubbing the toilet and cleaning the mirror?  Or does it include wiping counters and  putting out clean towels?  When you communicate your expectations, your child can have a clear idea of what they need to do.

6. Explain why

Why do we make our kids do chores?  To teach them responsibility?    Learn the value of work?  Make their lives miserable?  Whatever the reason, explaining your reasoning for having them help around the house can foster understanding and lessen resentment.

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