First a caveat, we are not parenting experts but we are parents who expect our kids to help at home. From the moment my babies started walking and following me around the house and showing an interest in house work, I encouraged them to help me (and Dad).
Why? Because time is so limited, and I need all the help I can get.
When kids are little they just want to spend time with you, and if it means putting socks in a drawer they are happy to do it. They also love and crave the praise and compliments they receive when they are helping out. So, firstly I would say start getting them to help as early as possible.
However, not going to lie, as kids grow up and go through different development stages, they won't always want to help out. This gets more challenging and increasingly frustrating (current experience) but you just need to keep persisting and setting that expectation at home.
Here's why chores or helping out is good for kids
1. Lightens your work load and teaches them about consequences
While it can be a bit of extra effort to teach kids new skills, once they have learnt how to do something they can continue to do it. This means one less thing YOU need to do around the house. Just remember, don't give in if they drag their feet.
Say something like "If you don't want to put your shoes away, that's ok, but what do you think might happen if you ask to go to the playground later?" Pause... you'll be amazed at how quickly they work out why they need to help.
2. Teaches them useful life skills
We all know someone who grew up not having to clean their room or help with the house work. They are completely unprepared to look after themselves when they want to move out of home. While they may not care too much, this will continue to put pressure on the people they choose to live with such as house mates and future partners.
Also, think about how attractive it is when your partner helps around the house or with cooking meals. Make sure your kids are super attractive for any future prospects. Do you really want them to live with you forever 🤔?
3. Builds appreciation and gratefulness
Teaching your kids how to maintain a household, practice good hygiene and prepare food for a meal will make them better understand how much time and effort it takes to do everything, and why you need help to do it. By learning how to take care of others and practicing helpfulness, kids will build appreciation and gratitude for the help they always receive from their parents, teachers and family.
4. Become more confident and independent
Learning new skills can be frustrating for kids (and adults!) but once they master them, they are full of accomplishment and pride. It teaches them that a "can do" attitude and working on a goal will always be rewarded. This feel good feeling will help them to continue to want to tackle other skills and activities they may not have been able to do before, and want to do more things for themselves.
5. Opportunity for family bonding
In our house, we like to all do our chores or cleaning tasks together at the same time. Some times we do these individually, or we team up and do them together to get it done quickly. It might sound strange, but this is very much family bonding time.
We are all working together to pitch in and look after our home and belongings. And they more we all pitch in, the quicker chores are done, and the more time we have for fun bonding activities.
Number 1 tips to get kids to help around the house
My number 1 tip for getting kids to help around the house is to use more positive and supportive language when talking about chores.
- We don't use the word 'chores'. We always ask for them to help with a task. If they have regular tasks they are expected to do as part of their daily routine, they are included on their goal chart.
- We call our kids products are called 'goal charts' so they have something to work towards, whether it be learning how to do a type of task or chore, or getting better at learning to do a task everyday.
- We always ask respectfully for help with something. Aggressive demands don't work on any one.
- If their is resistance, ask them to think about what the consequences might be if they don't help out. For example, if they don't want to help, Mum has to do it all and it will take all day and we won't be able to go outside and play games together.
Age appropriate chores and tasks
If you're not sure what tasks your kids should help with, here's some age appropriate chores or tasks they can help with at home by Focus on Family.
For more challenging tasks, you can use a goal chart to help them work on it each it.