It can often be a huge challenge to get kids motivated to do their chores—and nearly impossible to get them enthusiastic about their household duties. But the truth is that as parents, it is an essential part of our job to teach kids how to help out around the house and to learn how to become productive members of society. Not only does it make our family life run smoother, it is essential to their own development and self-esteem. As it turns out, kids WANT to help and derive great satisfaction from seeing a task through.
In our house, we’ve tried lots of different ways of motivating our kids, but one of the most successful is the regular use of a chore chart, which not only provides motivation, but also helps us teach financial responsibility. In the past we’ve used one from Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace Junior series, as well as others that we’ve created ourselves.
The most important thing we are trying to teach them right now is that money comes from work, so rather than freely receiving an allowance, our girls earn their money by completing tasks. On Sundays–payday–we sit down to budget the money they’ve earned in their Save, Spend, and Give envelopes. This not only teaches them about the value of work, but that money can be fun and also used to help others.
We have already found that teaching kids about chores, money, and work is definitely a lifelong process. Even so, here are four steps you can take right now to get started on the right track:
1. Tailor Chores to the Age Level
One way to get started is to be sure the chores on your chart are easily understood by your kids and that each chore is tailored to their age level and your household expectations. Children as young as two can carry out simple chores like collecting the bathroom garbage cans or helping to pick up toys. A teenager might be a much more involved helper, perhaps doing yard work, laundry, and many additional household tasks to prepare for life on their own.
You can use this handy printable chart to determine the best age-appropriate chores for your kids:
As you assess what chores need to be done, remember that this is a teaching tool. Younger children may not know how to clean a spotless bathroom mirror or how to make their bed all on their own. They also may not understand the household standards. A teenager might not fully understand why they have to separate out reds and blacks from the whites. (One pink t-shirt though, and they might start to come around.) Patience is key. You aren’t going to end up with a spotless house while you put your feet up and read a magazine. (Don’t I wish!) Learning cleaning tips and techniques can take awhile.
I recently heard about one mom who started a Pinterest board with her daughter where they share household tips and advice from around the Internet. She said she knew it was a success when her daughter pinned some tips on keeping the shower door spotless. Suddenly she realized she had an enthusiastic helper because she had allowed her daughter to take ownership and feel like she was part of the process.
2. Decide on a Visual that Everyone Understands
A young child may be much more excited about cute pictures, cartoons and images than words on a chore chart. An older child may have more complicated assignments that need an explanation. Find what works best for your children. A quick search on Pinterest will reveal more ideas than you know what to do with!
To make it even easier for you, we have put together a few different printable chore chart options for you to use. Depending on the age of your kids, one of the following ideas might be the perfect way to motivate them:
Whatever chart you use, make sure that it makes sense to the people who are using it. And don’t make it too complicated! The simpler it is for everyone to use, the more likely you will keep it up!
3. Place Chore Charts in a Visible Location
Charts need to be posted or stored where they’re easy to see and can be accessed by everyone (in case someone needs a little reminder). Before the days of stainless steel kitchens, that place was often the refrigerator door, but lots of other locations would work too, such as a bulletin board hung in the hallway, kitchen, or even right in your child’s bedroom. Or, if hanging is not an option at all, the popsicle stick chore option makes a great alternative and takes only a few inches of shelf space!
Having a Family Command Center, either in the office or in your kitchen can be a great way to make things accessible (and keep them pretty). If you choose to review the charts daily (my recommendation), you’ll want to set aside a special time—maybe right after dinner or before teeth brushing and prayers at night—to review the accomplishments of the day. It doesn’t need to be a big production, but simple love, praise and acknowledgement can be enough to keep the ball rolling.
4. Decide on an Incentive
Some families see chores as simply a part of belonging to the family. As part of the family, children are expected to chip in, help out and do things around the house. Other parents see a reward system as a powerful tool to motivate kids and teach lessons about earning. Whatever your view, you can still make chore charts work, and in fact, you may find that it’s a valuable tool that you NEED.
Even if you chose not to reward your children with money, they may need to complete tasks around the house to earn privileges, such as a playdate, a movie or another reward. Putting up a visual reminder of the end goal can be helpful. Just like chore charts offer a visual way to track the completed tasks, putting the reward right on the chart can serve as a reminder and an incentive
Some parents post dollar amounts right on the chore chart or attach envelopes to move money whenever a task is done. One mom I know actually hides her child’s reward on Saturday mornings in the room that the child is assigned to dust. Let me tell you—her house can pass a white glove test when she’s done!
Get creative. Even teens (who are “too cool” to be motivated by a sticker on a chore chart) will be very motivated when they can see a clear incentive or end goal. Having to complete your chore list before going out can work wonders!
Finally, don’t be afraid to mix it up as you go. If you feel that your chore chart is getting boring or your kids are growing out of it, try something new! Remember, your objectives are not only to get your kids enthusiastic about helping around the house, but to understand that money comes from work, and to find happiness and satisfaction in a job well done!
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Do your kids do chores? How do you keep them motivated?