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5 Fun and Easy Ways to Teach Chores to Your Children

You’re a mom, not a maid! Cleaning up together is a healthy part of family life. The sooner your children learn how to do chores, the better. You can teach chores to your children in these 5 fun and easy steps. #parenting #cleaning #chores #family #Homemaking #lifeskills

Why Should You Teach Chores to Your Children?

I’ll never forget the day I was browsing threads in an online mommy group. I stopped scrolling when I noticed a lengthy thread with hundreds of replies. It didn’t take long to realize why it was so popular! One exasperated mama was asking for help to get her 13-year-old to do chores. Initially, the other moms assumed the teen was simply being rebellious until her mother confessed that this was the first time she’d ever asked her daughter to do a chore. 

That’s right – she’d never once tried to teach chores to her daughter before, and now she simply expected her to start doing them.

Her child thought she was joking, so she refused, which is a perfectly normal thing to do. Why should she think her mom was being serious when her mom had played the maid her entire life?

Like most of the other moms in the thread, I shared how I had taught my children to begin doing chores at a young age. In fact, the very first exposure my children have with a chore is when they are under a year old.

The first chore my husband and I share with our children is how to clean up the crumbs that spilled beneath their highchair after a meal time.

It’s a lot of fun! We all get on the floor and pick up bits of food together before depositing it into the trash. We laugh, sing, and make a game of it. We give our babies a lot of praise which helps them to look forward to our new post-meal time activity.

And that is one of the primary reasons to teach chores to your children – so they will learn that belonging to a family involves teamwork.

Other important reasons to teach chores to your children are:

  • To equip them with life skills

  • To foster self-reliance and independence

  • To demonstrate how to be considerate towards others

  • To train them to have a good attitude about work

  • To help them establish a daily routine

  • To encourage good stewardship of their belongings

  • To support the development of gross and fine motor skills

It’s a mistake to assume a child will magically absorb how to properly perform a task if they’re never taught what to do, so you must be intentional about providing chore lessons.

Here are some easy steps to take so you can teach chores to your children.

Step 1: Teach Chores Consistently

Once you decide to introduce chore to your children, make it a regular part of your home routine.

Ideally, chores should be a daily part of your child’s life. Messes are a part of daily living, so cleaning should also be a part of daily living.

Start off with simple, age appropriate tasks such as putting dirty clothes into the hamper or returning toys to their bins.

Use a timer to encourage your child to be efficient during chore time and to signal that chore time is over. When it feels like a chore is taking a long time to do, it can be demotivating for young children.

“And that is one of the primary reasons to teach chores to your children – so they will learn that belonging to a family involves teamwork.  “

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Step 2: Teach Chores Step-By-Step

The first chores you teach to your child should involve a minimal number of steps. As your child demonstrates more advanced motor skills and the ability to understand more detailed instructions, it’s time to move on to more complex chores.

Let your child watch as you complete the chore. Be sure to move slowly and explain each step you’re doing

Give them an opportunity to perform the same step with your help (place your hands over theirs if needed) and be patient as they do their best.

Your child won’t absorb all this information in a single lesson. Expect the repeat the steps of each chore over and over until your child has mastered the skills.

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Step 3: Equip and Supervise

Once your child can independently handle the steps of a chore, simply equip your child and supervise them.

One great way to do this is to provide specific chore baskets for each room of the house. This way, your child can instantly find the supplies needed to get the job done.

Another way to do this is to be present at a central location during chore time, such as a hallway closet, so you can distribute supplies and collect them after your children complete their tasks.

If your child is old enough to clean using chemicals, watch to make sure they are using them properly. Check that they are wearing the proper equipment (gloves, apron, goggles, face mask, etc.), that they don’t leave chemicals unattended or in the reach of younger siblings, and that they are careful to remove the chemicals from the surfaces where they are used.

If your child is old enough to use heavy or electric tools, be ready to step in to plug and unplug cords or to assist in the event your child needs help handling the equipment (such as a vacuum.)

Step 4: Provide Printed Instructions for Future Reference

Without frequent reminders, children can forget what they have been taught. Make it easy for your child to know exactly what they must do during chore time by providing printed chore lists.

There are several ways to do this:

  • You can make lists using words or pictures.

  • You can make lists that are specific to each room of the house.

  • You can make lists that are specific to each child.

  • You can make lists that are specific to the day of the week.

  • You can make lists that are specific to particular routines (e.g. morning chores vs. evening chores)

In our home, I include chores on the printed morning routine lists I’ve made for each of my children. I also have a clipboard with bonus chores for my children to complete during times of the day when there are no structured events scheduled (such as in between breakfast and homeschool or after school and before dinner.)

Note: Printed lists are not a substitute for adult supervision. Make sure you are present during chore time whether to provide assistance or to verify that tasks have been properly completed.

Step 5: Reward Your Child

Even though each member of your family has a responsibility to participate in keeping your home clean, it’s still a good idea to reward your children for a job well done.

The simplest way to reward your child is with praise. Let them know how much you appreciate their efforts! Compliment them as their skills improve and as they take initiative to complete tasks without being prompted.

Give cuddles, tousle their hair, offer a fist bump, pat them on the back, or simply say thank you!

You can even set up a sticker chart system to reward your child with privileges after they’ve completed a set number of tasks for the day or the week. We love using this magnetic chore tracking chart with our kids! It’s a great visual motivator for small children.

If you’re comfortable with paying your children to do chores, pay them daily or weekly for tasks.

We pay our children a few cents for a some of their chores such as the ones listed on the bonus chore list and a few of their daily chores. Other chores are expected to be completed without pay.

We like to pay our children to do some of their chores so they learn that earning money is a result of working hard. Paying our children for their chores also provides us with opportunities to teach lessons about spending and saving (more on that in a future post!)

Teaching Chores Doesn’t Have to Be a Chore!

When you teach chores to your child, use it as a fun bonding opportunity! Start your chore lessons as early as possible with your children so that they become accustomed to doing them. Teaching simple, consistent, step-by-step lessons will help your children to develop a variety of skills while having fun making memories with you.

In your opinion, what is the best age to begin teaching chores to a child? Share your thoughts in the comments!

You’re a mom, not a maid! Cleaning up together is a healthy part of family life. The sooner your children learn how to do chores, the better. You can teach chores to your children in these 5 fun and easy steps. #parenting #cleaning #chores #family #Homemaking #lifeskills

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