How do You Get Kids to do their chores?

Learn How To Hold Your Kids Accountable For Their Chores

get kids to do chores

When I was a kid, my siblings and I did not have assigned chores. We were responsible for keeping our bedrooms clean, but that was about it. My mom did not work outside of the home and she made sure the house stayed clean.  

We helped with chores when asked, but growing up we didn’t have set chores.

My childhood was less structured and less scheduled. Today, my family has a busier schedule. We need to set aside time for chores or the house is a disaster. Everyone in the family contributes to the mess, so I expect my husband and kids to help with chores.

Just tuning in to my series all about kid chores? You can Read More:

Different Ways to Make Sure Household Chores Get Done

Over the years, our family has tried a variety of methods to get our kids to help with chores. Some methods worked better than others. Here’s what we have tried and lessons we learned from each method.

No Assigned Chores

The first method we tried was not assigning anyone chores. The default was to stick with what I grew up with. There wasn’t a big need to have anyone responsible for specific chores.

I quickly realized for our family, having no assigned chores meant I ended up doing most of the chores. I would ask my husband and kids for help along the way, but most of the time it seemed easier to do the chores myself.

This method did not go very well. My kids weren’t eager to help. It was a struggle to encourage them to clean up after themselves. And after a full day of work I didn’t want to come home and teach my kids how to clean. It was faster for me to do the chores myself, so that’s what typically happened.

The result was I did a lot of the chores and was frustrated.

Assigned Chores and Chore Charts

The second method we tried was assigning everyone a few chores. We used picture chore charts for the kids because they were young. This helped to visually remind them what they were responsible for. The kids were able to mark each chore complete.

The result was good on days we had time to use the chore charts. The kids took ownership of their responsibilities and were learning to be more independent.

Life went along. We had a third kid. The older kids had more after school activities. Keeping the house tidy wasn’t a problem. But we didn’t always get to the deep cleaning tasks. The chore chart system was working, but we needed help with deep cleaning.

Hire a Professional House Cleaner

The third method we tried was hiring a professional house cleaner. Everyone in the family was responsible for keeping the house tidy. We worked together the night before the cleaner came to make sure the house was ready. The house cleaner did the deep cleaning.

The result was fantastic. The house was cleaner than ever. Everyone in the family helped get the house ready. And because our house was so clean everyone did their part to help keep it clean during the week.

But then we moved and decided not to include the cost of a professional house cleaning in our new budget. We needed a new chore accountability system for our family.

How do you Find what’s right for your family?

There is no one size fits all chore accountability system. In order to find the right system for your family, start by answering one simple question.

Do you Want Your Kids to Have Assigned Chores?

Ultimately, the decision to have assigned chores is individual for every family. Each family has different needs and you have to find what works best for you.

BUT, there are still basic chores that need to get done in every house. Assigned chores or not, you want to find ways to get your kids to actually clean up their own messes and help tidy up common household areas.

chores for kids

Examples of Ways Parent Try To Get Their Kids to do Chores

Once I decided everyone in our family was going to have assigned chores, I naively thought that was the end. I thought I would assign the chores and everyone would do the chores.

I was WRONG!

Few people actually like doing chores. And I haven’t met a kid who begs their parents to let them stop playing so they can clean up around the house.

Here are a couple examples of ways parents try to get their kids to do chores

  • Nagging
  • Punishments when chores aren’t done
  • No free time or fun activities until chores are done
  • Giving an Allowance or reward for completed chores

Sometimes these methods work. And maybe it takes a combination of these methods for other families. But then I think back to the big life lesson I learned…

It’s More Important To Teach Kids Positive Character Traits Than Point Out Negative Behavior.

When moms nag, give a punishment, withhold free time or pay for chores, they aren’t teaching their kids positive character traits. The kids are doing the chore to either get something or avoid something.

I want my kids to take responsibility for the messes they make. I want them to take care of their things and want to keep their rooms clean. So, how do you encourage your kids to do their chores? You help them develop positive character traits.

Positive Character Traits Make a Difference

As a mom, you help your kids develop positive character traits by giving them opportunities to practice these traits at home. Chores are one way kids can practice. It is not always easy or fun to get started. But over time and with consistent effort, your kids will develop positive character traits.

You’ll be surprised that practicing good characteristics makes a big difference. Your kid who starting out whining and complaining at the simplest chore will complete their chores without being reminded. When your kids consistently practice being helpful and kind at home, their default reactions in life will be to be helpful and show kindness.

How To Encourage Kids To Do Their Chores

Let me stress this again, it’s not always easy or fun to get started. You know you want your kids to practice being helpful and kind at home. Kid chores are a great way to practice. But how do you start when your kids just whine and complain about doing chores?

Here are a few techniques you can use:

  • work side by side with your kids
  • let them choose – the order they do their chores, how they do their chores, what time of day they do their chores
  • give praise regularly and freely for a job well done
  • use uplifting, kind and supportive language
  • be patient and don’t expect perfection
  • after a chore is complete ask them how it went

You can read this article about more ways to encourage your kids to develop internal motivation. The best way to help your kids learn positive character traits (or internal motivation) is by being consistent. The best way to be consistent is to implement an accountability system.

How to Find an Accountability System that Works

At the beginning of the article, I references a couple different kid chore methods our family tried in the past. After we moved we needed a new family chore method.

We basically started over and tried a variety of things including:

Method #1 – No Accountability system

First, we tried to be casual and less structured with household responsibilities. My kids are older and I didn’t think we needed to use a specific accountability system or chore chart. I didn’t want the extra work and I honestly didn’t think it was worth the time and effort.

The result was the chores weren’t always completed. There was more complaining than I expected and I found myself frustrated. Not having assigned chores or an accountability system does not work well for our family. We need some sort of structure, organization and accountability.

Method #2 – Chore Chart

The second method was very organized and structured. I assigned everyone set chores. Each kid had a chore chart with a checklist to mark off each day.

The assigned chores worked much better. This gave our family chores more organization and structure. The accountability system of chore charts worked ok, but it didn’t always work with our variable daily schedules.

My kids were frustrated when they had busy days and too many chores at home. We tried to find chore charts that allowed more flexibility and could be adjusted. This ended up being more work. Ultimately we abandoned the chore charts.

Keep Trying Until your find what Works

Now, going through these different methods was actually very helpful. My family needed to try out different things to find what worked and didn’t work. There isn’t one magic system that will work perfect for every family. You need to find what works for you.

Here are a couple examples of what you can try:

1. Magnetic Picture Chore Chart – great for kids who don’t read
2. Weekly Chore Chart Printable – easy to customize and kids can see their progress during the week
3. Step by Step Chore Instructions – helps older kids remember all of the steps to clean their entire bedroom or bathroom
4. Money for Chores – even if kids have assigned chores, they have the opportunity to earn money by doing extra chores

The Accountability System that Works for Us

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Through trial and error, we found a nice balance that works for our family. We all have assigned chores and an accountability system that isn’t too strict. Here’s what we do:
1. Everyone has daily and weekly assigned chores. 
2. As needed – chores and reminders are written on the white board in our kitchen. The kids check off or erase the chores as they are completed. 

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3. Screens are off limits until chores are completed to “mom standard.” The kids can choose other fun activities if they plan to do their chores later in the day. But, they cannot be on screens until their chores are complete.

My kids are 7, 12 and 14. We have been working with this model for a couple years, so it works well for us. We like that our method is flexible and forgiving when schedules are busy.

2 Steps to Get Your Kids to do Chores

Step #1: Hold a Family Meeting

Your first step is to set a family meeting time. Use the time to evaluate how things are going in your household. Allow every member of the family an opportunity to speak and be heard.

If kid chores aren’t the top priority at the moment, change the focus of your conversation to the top priority for your family.

Ask these questions:

  • What is going well?
  • What is not going well?
  • Are certain family members doing most of the work?
  • Can anyone help out more?
  • Do we need to have assigned chores?
  • Do we need help with accountability?

Step #2: Make A Plan

After you evaluate how things are going, brainstorm ideas to make things better. Decide on one thing your family wants to change. Make a plan for how your family will implement the change this week.

You’ll repeat those two steps each week – evaluate how the week went and if anything needs to change, make a plan to implement that change.

You will have a chore system that works for your family.

Final Thoughts on How to get kids to do their chores

Your goal is to raise kids who have positive character traits. You want kids who are internally motivated to work hard and do their best. You want kids who are kind, thoughtful, determined and self-sufficient. One of the ways you can help your kids develop these traits is by giving them chores.

Chores allow your kids the opportunity to practice these positive character traits at home. It takes time, consistent effort and patience on your part to motivate your kids to do their chores. Through consistent practice your kids will develop amazing qualities. The best way to stay consistent is by having an accountability system.

Whether your family decides to use a chore chart, white board or another method, you’ll probably need to try out a couple systems until you find what works best.

The first thing you can do today is hold a family meeting where you will identify one thing you want to change. You’ll make a plan on how to implement that change this week.

Household chores and family responsibilities can be challenging, but as your family works together, you can find a system that works for you. I know you will find the right balance for your family if you’re willing to put in the effort.

Related Articles

Read more about why giving your kids chores helps them be amazing adults.

Find which chores are appropriate for your kids based on their age.

Teach Your kids how to do their chores.

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Hold Your Kids Accountable for their chores by finding a system that works best for your family

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