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Healthy Families. Positive Outcomes.

Increasing Your Child's Responsibility Through Chores

Increasing Your Child's Responsibility Through Chores

By Ashley Petersen


“Do we have to do chores?”

We can all agree that having to do chores was one of the worst parts of being a kid. I know I would have rather been out playing, talking with friends or watching TV. Nevertheless, they needed to be done. I was not the best at completing my chores, but doing them provided me with important skills that all adults need. Parents want their kids to be as successful, but how are they going to get there if everything is done for them? We can teach kids to start taking care of themselves at any age by starting with chores.

Implementing a chore chart in your household has many benefits. Research done by the Center of Parenting Education has found that “children who do have a set of chores have higher self-esteem, are more responsible, and are better able to deal with frustration and delay gratification, all of which contribute to greater success in school.”

There are 5 steps to setting up chores and helping your child become more responsible:

Step 1: Role Modeling

As a parent, you are your child’s biggest role model. The way that you complete chores provides your children with a model on how things are done and how adults feel about doing them. If kids see adults having a positive attitude about accomplishing tasks around the house, there is a good chance they are going to want to help as they grow up. Young children pick up on everything; you may think that they are not watching or listening, but they are!  Everything that you say or do will impact what they decide to do as they get older.

Step 2: Deciding on Chores

It is important to have your kid complete age appropriate chores. This means that you ask your children to complete chores that match their physical ability and maturity level. For instance, you wouldn’t ask a 7-year old to load the dishwasher or a 14-year old to pick up toys. Instead, assign children chores that they can competently complete with minimal supervision, in a reasonable amount of time. After all, you want to make sure that they still have time to be a kid and have fun!

Step 3: Motivation!

Motivation to complete tasks is needed at regardless of age. As adults, we are motivated to work at our jobs because we enjoy getting our paychecks. Kids are just as easy to motivate. Extra time to watch TV, play on their tablets and video games, have a friend over, pick out dinner for a night or an allowance, can all be very motivating for a child. Ask your child what they want to earn so that you have their buy in. You can also ask them what they want to do for chores. Children are more likely to cooperate with what you are asking of them if they get to add their input, or make any kind of choice along the way. Make sure when it comes to their rewards that it is something you can follow through with (which we will further address in step 5.)

Step 4: The Chart

A visual chore chart helps children to remember what they are supposed to do. There are many types of charts and what kind you use will depend on the age of the kid. Those who are on the older side and don’t have any trouble reading, a check list style will work well. However, for younger children, the use of images will be a good alternative.

Whichever chart you decide on, I suggest that you laminate it. This way the chart is harder to destroy and you can save paper. After laminating a chart, you can write on it with dry erase markers making it re-usable every week.  The most important thing to remember is to make it functional for you and your family. 

Step 5: Following Through

In order to keep them motivated and completing chores, you need to follow through with giving them their reward.  Having a visual chore chart helps children keep track of what needs to be done, but it can also help you to follow through on providing the promised rewards! And remember: if they did all their chores for the day or week and don’t get their reward, it’s going to be tougher to motivate them the next time. 

It is important to remember that every child and family is different. Even within a single household, you cannot always compare one child to another. Each child has different needs and as a family, you may want them to complete different chores. It’s okay to ask other parents for advice and what works for them, but remember that you will need to change it to fit your family’s needs.

Changing a routine and adding something as involved as chore charts isn’t always easy. There will most certainly be setbacks, off-weeks, and a few pitfalls along the way, but don’t give up! Remember that there are many benefits to giving your children their own responsibilities and that the more they learn to help out, the happier, more successful (and cleaner!) your household will be in the long run!


Additional Resources on Chores for Children:

Center for Parenting Education - Responsibility and Chores 

Family Education - Importance of Chores

Focus On the Family - Motivating Kids to Clean-Up