Should I have my kids do chores? At what age should they start? What if they don’t want to? What should I have them do? Should I pay them? These questions will come up sooner or later, so let’s talk about kids doing chores.
“Mama, I help!” One of my two-year-old twins babbled as I carried the laundry basket into the living room. “I fold!” Said the other, running behind me, trying to keep up with my pace.
I let them fold their clothes with me once before and they were eager to help again. My first thought was, “They’ll make such a mess again, and I will have even more to clean up and will end up refolding everything.” But I knew that letting them help will play a big role in instilling responsibility in my little boys.
They spread the clean laundry on the floor. They were doing their best to fold the clothes the way I showed them. Their little brother waddled into the room. He climbed into the laundry basket and dug into the warm pile. He wanted to help, too. He was making a bigger mess than his brothers, but it was okay. He was involved.
At what age should they start?
Most likely, involving your small children in chores will mean more cleanup for mom to do. The good news is that it will only last a short period of time. Soon enough they will learn how it’s done, and as long as their chores are age-appropriate, they will master the skill before you know it.
Even better news is that children who learn early grow up to be more responsible, organized teenagers with a set of basic life skills. The younger they start, the sooner they’ll learn. Small children understand more than we think. Because chores teach responsibility, try to involve them at a very young age. Let little kids help as soon as they show interest in helping, it’s essential in raising responsible humans.
What should I have them do?
If your child is 12-18 months old, ask them to throw away the diaper you just changed, or pick up a wrapper from the floor. At two, they can start picking up their toys. Three to four-year-olds can learn how to make their beds. Five-year-olds can move the laundry from the washer to the dryer. At six, out come the gloves and the toilet brush. The list of chores for kids evolves as the child grows.
I have a free printable of age-appropriate chores ready for you. Simply sign up for the motherhood tribe email list and I’ll send it your way.
Should I pay them?
There is not one answer for every family. You may choose to pay your kids for chores, but if you do, make sure they learn about finances and how money works early on. It’s important that they learn to have a healthy relationship with money when they start having access to cash, even when if it’s just a dollar or two here and there.
You may choose to reward your kids for doing chores in a different way. Kind words are the biggest motivators. Saying, “I’m so lucky to have you as my helper,” or, “I don’t know what I would do without your help”, or simply, ”You’re doing such an amazing job!” Will put a smile on their face and yours.
You can offer them a favorite treat, a spontaneous trip to an ice cream shop, or a drive to the store to pick out a new book or toy. Be careful not to use this as a bribe, but instead, surprise them with these treats once in a while.
If you’re concerned about your children expecting to get “paid” for everything they do around the house, have them do one chore per day as their “family” chore, and if they want to earn some cash, have more chores available for them with the price attached. This way you leave it up to them to do more chores if they want.
However you decide to reward them, make sure your kids know that you appreciate their help. Try not to say words like, “You need to contribute to this household”, or “You should be doing something around here.” These words don’t motivate, and they certainly don’t show kindness and appreciation.
Should I make them do chores they don’t want to do?
Notice what they like to do and start with that. But don’t forget to encourage them to do what they don’t like doing. To help with this, have a weekly rotating schedule. That way, if one week they have a task they don’t enjoy doing, next week they will have a new one ready for them to tackle. Kids need to learn to get things done even if they don’t want to.
We all want to raise good humans, we want our kids to be successful in life, to make a difference, to be caring, kind people, and all that starts in our homes. Chores help build basic life skills and help our children develop a good work ethic. Have your kids doing chores starting at a young age, and a few years down the road you will spend less time arguing with teenagers about cleaning their rooms.
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