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  • Raising Happy Helpers: How to Encourage Your Kids to Help at Home

    Giving them their own tools and making it a fun experience can teach your kids the importance of helping with household chores
    by Kat Patiño-Marquez .
Raising Happy Helpers: How to Encourage Your Kids to Help at Home
PHOTO BY iStock
  • Several studies have found that giving children chores to do at home can contribute greatly to their success in the future. It can help instill the values of good work ethic, responsibility, independence, self-sufficiency and the understanding that hard work can help one achieve his goals. Although implementing chores is ideal for every household, imposing them is easier said than done. 

    Teaching kids to help with household chores

    While assigning chores are meant to lighten the workload of household tasks for all members of the family, it can become tedious when reluctant children force parents to constantly nag and remind them. Inspire your kids to happily help around the house by creating fun charts, getting them their own tools, and setting a good example they can follow. Here are more tips that may come in handy:

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    Create a chart they can use as guide

    This may come as a surprise, but giving children structure and routine can help give them the independence they crave. By providing them a guide of tasks they need to accomplish, you can leave it up to your kids to do their chores how they wish, without mommy and daddy hovering or nagging. Doing this also allows them to feel responsible for themselves. Remember that this will also take a lot of patience on your part because they're also learning how to go about their chores. Take this opportunity to guide and teach them.

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    I also found that providing a chore chart not only enabled me to organize all the tasks my kids needed to accomplish every day but it also establishes the fact that you mean business. Make sure to provide a tick box next to each chore so when they're done, they will feel fulfilled seeing they've finished all their goals by themselves. 

    Provide them with their own set of tools

    Chores may seem like a challenge to kids because the tools they need to use aren’t kid-friendly. So why not give them tools that will make doing chores fun and easy? If they’re assigned to water plants, give them an age-appropriate watering can. If they need to sweep and mop, give them a broom and mop set in their size. This will also make them feel empowered because they have tools of their own that only they can use.

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    Turn tasks into fun challenges they can accomplish

    When chores start to become repetitive, encourage your kids by introducing new challenges when doing tasks. A simple way of doing this is setting a deadline and a timer. I leave my 6-year-old daughter to get herself ready every morning for school. This isn’t much of a test for her because it’s something she’s been doing on her own for some time. So, I presented her with a challenge: do it in 20 minutes. At first, she was worried she wouldn’t be able to, but with a little encouragement, she was able to do it with time to spare! She was able to finish her task, felt proud she did it despite the new challenge, and got to school earlier than usual. It’s a win for everyone.

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    Switch up the tasks every week

    Yes, chores will definitely start feeling monotonous and dull after a while but there’s a simple way you can keep things a little fresh in your household. You can switch up chores and let your kids do a different set of tasks every week. This is easy when you have two or more kids because you can simply rotate the tasks. But if you only have one child, assign one set of chores for this week then a different set for the next. This will make chores feel less repetitive through time.

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    Never use household chores as punishment

    Nothing will turn your kids off to chores more than if you treat it as a sanction. Kids don’t like being punished no matter what that punishment may be. If they’re used to getting chores as a penalty, they will never learn to like doing them. We should always associate positivity to chores so our kids learn that chores, even if it takes a lot of effort, are good and not bad for us.

    Involve them in the planning

    When kids are growing into their school-age years, they start to enforce their independence. You’ll notice them complaining more when you help them with anything or when you decide on things without consulting them. Although its hard to see your kids being self-sufficient (we all wish they could stay babies forever), this a good thing and a good way to attract your kids to do their chores.

    Instead of dictating what they need to do, you can involve them when you start assigning tasks. Talk about which chores they enjoy doing and work together to create a chart everyone will be happy with. This way, they can’t back out on any of the tasks assigned to them because they were involved in those decisions so they have to stick to them. They will also see what tasks everyone else has to do and they won’t feel like they’re alone in their job. This communicates to them the bigger picture: that we all need to contribute, their help is greatly needed, and will be appreciated by everyone in the household.

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    Lead by example

    When kids are young, they learn through imitation.  Just like with any habit, kids learn best when they see their parents doing the same things. If you want your children to develop good habits, especially with doing chores, you have to do the tasks as well. Even if you’re a working parent, you can do simple chores like fixing your bed every morning, placing your dishes in the sink after every meal, or doing the dishes from time to time. When your kids see you doing these chores without complaints, they no longer feel they have to question your authority and assignments and are encouraged to follow suit.

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