Kids and chores – why and how to encourage kids to help at home

Kids and chores

I’ve always encouraged my kids to help do chores around the house. As long as the chores are age-appropriate, I feel that it will help my kids, both now and in the future, and the rest of the family certainly benefits too. Check out this post to learn more about kids and chores and why and how to encourage kids to help at home. I’ve also included some ideas for chores that your kids could do at different ages to help you all get started!

Why I encourage my kids to do household chores

Firstly, let’s look at the 3 main reasons why I encourage my kids to help with housework and chores.

I’m using the word ‘encourage’ because I don’t want to make it into a big deal for them and tell them off when they haven’t helped. I think it builds up resentment this way. I’d prefer them to be proud of their home, value their stuff and WANT to look after it, rather than it being something they get told off for not doing.

I guess it’s a kind of positive parenting approach but I find it works far better for my kids this way and they’re much more likely to want to help, rather than being forced to.

1. It teaches them to look after their belongings

I try to help them understand that if they want to keep on playing with their toys then they need to look after them. For example:

  • They need to pick the toys up off the floor when they’ve finished playing with them, so they don’t get trodden on or broken.
  • They’re less likely to get lost underneath the sofa or bed if they’re picked up straightaway.

2. The routine becomes habit which eventually becomes second nature

I know this isn’t something that will magically happen overnight! But getting your kids into the routine of basic chores will mean that it’s not such a big deal when they become grown-ups. It’ll already be something they’re used to doing, pretty much without thinking about it. They won’t get a shock to the system when they leave home and have to manage their own homes!

3. Everyone who lives in the house should contribute to running it

I’m a firm believer in this although I know it’s not something that every family chooses for themselves. It partly came about because I found it really helped me save time and energy when I was working full time and managing the house and kids. Just that little bit of extra help really made a big difference.

Encouraging your kids to help with household chores will save you time and energy and helps them take pride in their home and belongings. Click To Tweet

Kids, chores - folding clothes

How I encourage my kids to do household chores

Here are some ideas of what works for my kids. It might be trial and error as to what works best for your children and you might have to change tactics as they get older, but here’s some approaches that we use.

1. I only ever ask them to do what I consider to be age-appropriate chores. I think this is important because you want them to take pride in what they’ve done and not get put off because it’s too difficult. Little kids especially need really simple, quick tasks that they can do on their own. This way they can feel in control and independent even if you’re keeping an eye on them as well. There’s a list of chores below which you might find useful for your child at different ages and stages.

2. I don’t tell them off for not doing their chores, but I praise and reward them when they do do them. This goes back to the encouragement approach I use, rather than forcing them to do it. If you turn it into a big deal then it builds up this kind of wall. Instead, try loads of encouragement and reward them when they’ve done well and I think you’re much more likely to get good results and happy, involved kids!

3. It’s never a big deal because they do them regularly, little and often. Try not to forget about the chores all week and then give your kids a long list of things to do at the weekend. Come up with a rota if you need to so the chores can be spread out and fitted in between other things. Keep it on the fridge or noticeboard so everyone can see it. A quick 5-10 minutes here and there is much more likely to get done with a smile on their face (same works for us grown-ups too!).

4. They see everyone else doing chores and little kids like to contribute and feel valued too. Little children love to be treated as equals and to feel included. Tell them they’ve done a great job (even if their folding or putting away isn’t quite as neat as yours!).

Kids and chores - why and how to encourage kids to help at home

5. Builds their self-esteem as they can see when they’ve done a good job. They can feel proud when they’ve done well, and other people can see how neat/tidy/clean their bit of the house is.

6. Maybe implement some kind of reward chart or system if you need a bit of extra encouragement. We all need some motivation and incentive from time to time so find a reward system that works for your kids.

7. Depending on their age I only ask them to do chores that are relevant to how they use the house. For example, I might ask them to tidy their room, but not my room, or put their own clean clothes away in their wardrobe, rather than mine.

8. Repetition and perseverance. Don’t expect it all to happen magically overnight. Like any routine or habit, it will take a while (and lots of encouragement and reminding) before they do it without asking!

9. Don’t make it over-complicated. Keep it simple by focus on implementing one chore at a time and gradually build it up as they master each one.

10. Don’t overload them. My thoughts are that whilst kids should do their fair bit, they’re still only kids after all and they’ve got a whole lifetime of chores ahead of them!

Kids, chores and how you can encourage kids to help at home
Examples of age-appropriate chores

There are loads of examples of age-appropriate chores on the internet but here are some examples of what my kids do and at what ages. Bear in mind that every child is different, so these are very general and you’ll have to find what works for you!

Age 2 – 4 years

  • Put toys away
  • Water plants
  • Get dressed
  • Get undressed
  • Dust
  • Try to brush teeth (parental supervision required!)
  • Put dirty clothes in the laundry
  • Put their rubbish in the bin

Age 5 – 7 years

  • All the above and…
  • Make bed
  • Help load and unload the dishwasher
  • Feed pets
  • Tidy bedroom
  • Help put away grocery delivery
  • Put dirty clothes in laundry basket
  • Take dirty plates etc to the kitchen after use
  • Help set table
  • Helping in the garden

Ages 8 – 10 years

  • All the above and…
  • Hoover the floor
  • Bath/shower by themselves
  • Brush teeth (generally unsupervised)
  • Help with the cooking
  • Make simple meals like breakfast
  • Set table
  • Take the rubbish out
  • Sort and take out the recycling
  • Keep bedroom tidy

Teenagers

  • All the above and…
  • Do laundry
  • Cook meals of varying complexity
  • Clean the house
  • Walk the dog
  • Help in the garden
Other posts that you might find helpful

Here are a couple of links to other posts I’ve written which you might find useful

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