How to get your kids to do chores with minimal complaining
Avoid procrastinating and gender stereotyping with these tips from parenting columnist Julie Freedman Smith
Getting your kids to do their chores can be a chore in and of itself, as all too many parents know.
- When it comes to kids' chores, how much is too much?
- Dads who do housework have more ambitious daughters
"Chores are how they contribute to family," she told CBC Calgary's The Homestretch.
So how do you manage that challenging battle of wills? Here are four tips that might help.
1. Set clear expectations
Step one is to be crystal clear with your kids what you expect and when you expect it to be done, says Freedman Smith.
To start with, take the time to do it with them so that they're comfortable and feeling confident about their ability to do what you've asked them to do.
Freedman Smith then recommends taking a picture to set a standard.
"Here's what your room looks like when it's clean. Let's put these pictures on the back of your door. Now you check. Does that corner look like the picture of what that corner is supposed to look like?" she offered.
2. Hold your kids accountable
After you've agreed on a set standard, you need to establish some consequences, Freedman Smith said.
"We need to hold them accountable to that, because if we just say it and don't hold them accountable, then they learn to not do it."
If you find your kids in the habit of complaining or procrastinating, you might need to sit down and have a conversation about responsibilities and consequences.
3. Be realistic
Don't give your kids chores to do that you know they're never going to do, Freedman Smith said.
"If you like those perfect hospital corners on beds, and your kids aren't going to do it, and then you're going to go in and do it afterwards? Totally defeating the purpose, because it's sending a message to the child that they can't do it," Freedman Smith said.
She also cautions against dressing chores up so they seem like play.
"Not everything has to be fun," Freedman Smith said.
"There are lots of things that we do in our lives that are not particularly fun and need to get done. If we start early, then we set up a pattern, and kids get into the habit of doing it.
"Then we go on and do the fun stuff."
4. Mix it up
What's expected of a three-year-old is completely different than what's expected of an 18-year-old, and parents shouldn't be afraid to update their standards as children learn the tasks and how to do them better.
- Parenting Power's age appropriate chores for kids 2 to 4 years old
- Parenting Power's age appropriate chores for kids 5 and up
"Start small. Pick a few. Get them working well. Then as they get better, you can add to it," Freedman Smith said.
To avoid falling into gender stereotypes when it comes to chores, she recommends alternating who does what.
For example, January could be garbage duty for one child this month, and dish duty for the other, and in February the two switch.
Most importantly, if it's not working, try something else.
"Do it in a way that's going to work for your family so that you will stick to it."