Getting kids to help with chores can seem like a real nightmare at times! How many of you have dealt with this scenario? There’s Lego all over the sitting room floor, jam smeared over the fridge door; the toilet paper is unraveled through the hallway, toy dinosaurs have taken over the entrance way and are demanding a sacrifice of flesh from a small toe to pass. Your child is oblivious to it all as he empties all the video game cases out to find the one he’s looking for and there isn’t even a cup of coffee in your hands yet.
You have reached That Point. You know the one.
But do not despair, there are ways and means of clearing that mess and getting your children to help. Please stop laughing manically at the back there, I’m serious. I’ve broken it down it to which tactics work best for each age group. So, before we start, take a deep breath, visualize that cup of coffee and remember, never show weakness. They can sense it.
Tips for getting kids to help with chores
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Trickery: (toddlers and younger)
I know, I know, that’s not what the parenting books would advocate, but think about it, how much fun is it really to polish furniture, load laundry and wipe jam off the sides? It’s not. But if you pretend it is to a toddler their natural curiosity is peaked. Why should mummy get all the fun? Why can’t they do it? The best thing to do here is to lie, tell them they aren’t old enough, that they can’t really handle it. Then watch just how fast they grab that duster out of your hands and get going on the bookcase. Odds are they are soon going to realize it’s not fun at all but for a short time there you have them. Don’t feel guilty; society tricked you into thinking it would be all fun and games once you hit parenthood, they never mention the sleepless nights, the non-stop bodily functions and the screaming. You earned this little break.
Reward Charts: (pre schoolers to around 10)
Or as I like to call them, introducing your child to a system of work for gain at a young age. They don’t work for every child. My boy would just look at the stickers and declare he didn’t really want the ice cream for 15 stickers he’d much rather have his brother work towards 12, give him the extra stickers from his side then take a portion of his brother’s ice cream reward for sharing the stickers. I’m fairly certain he is going to go on to become a politician and that I do not have enough coffee for his teenage years.
Other children, though, love to see that chart fill up. Let’s be honest, a child, while lovely and adorable, is a scheming mass of selfish intentions and if they think they will be rewarded they will just about drag themselves around enough to pick up that Lego then come to you with their hand out once that chart is full of shiny stickers. Absolutely worth it.
Reverse Psychology: (teenagers)
This works more effectively with teenagers. They are pushing your boundaries and very much want to annoy you. They don’t know why they do, they just know, like salmon following a thousand-year-old instinct to return home, there is some deep primal urge to really push your buttons. It’s nature.
You threw all your laundry on the floor? I love when you do that, it makes it so much easier for me to find.
You left dirty plates under your bed for a month? That is so clever of you to think ahead for your science fair.
Wet towels left in a heap in the bath? Quite right! It’s terrible for the environment to keep washing them, reuse all the way. I’m so proud of you.
Sip your coffee, stay calm and let them approach you with caution. They are testing you, it will get worse before it gets better. Keep calm, smile and wait. Eventually, they will pick up that old pair of socks and put them into the machine. They will hesitate while they do, like a scared animal. It’s imperative not to react. When they realize it gets no reaction they will do it again and the best part is, they won’t even know why they are doing it. You are in their head and that point, you win. Enjoy.
In summary, no matter the age of the child there is always a way. This may be a more light-hearted look at how to do it, but take a little kernel of truth from it. Remember you are not alone, do what you have to do to get them to help and if you are a mother of a boy, always, always check the toilet seat before sitting down. Always.