How to Teach Kids to Do Chores the Right Way8 min read
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Do you currently have a chore system that you follow (or try to follow)? Do your kids do their chores most days without complaining or forgetting? Do they do what is assigned to them well, and to the same standard that you would do them?
If not, give this 5 step method a try and teach your kids how to do chores the right way.
It does take some time and patience up front, but soon, you will start reaping the rewards of hassle-free chores done well. And let me tell you, it’s so worth it!
There were a few things that held me back from teaching my kids to do chores the right way in the beginning.
One was simply a matter of time and patience (well, the lack of them, that is). It takes a lot of both of these in the beginning.
Some years ago, I was not very intentional about the balance in my life. I have always homeschooled my kids, so it was not that they were not receiving my time and attention. However, I was not looking at the big picture to make sure that I was putting in effort and training where it mattered down the road.
The second was a misconception that my kids were not capable of doing chores well enough to justify the effort on my part… only to have to re-do them myself.
I have learned that with a little extra training time, young kids are competent. You do want to make sure to come alongside them in this process. Closely observe them to know what might be frustrating them because they are not coordinated enough, compared to what they just don’t feel like doing.
Teach Your Kids to Do Chores the Right Way
Before we jump into the process, take a minute to download the Chore Training Worksheet that will help you stay on track in the training process for each child.
There are also a few things we need to go over first…
Consider the Ability of Your Child
In researching for this post, I found that one of the most searched terms related to kids and chores is for age-appropriate chores.
I don’t think this is a terrible starting place, but I encourage you not to follow some strangers advice on what chores would be best suited for your child.
The best way to figure this out is through trial and error, knowing your child and their abilities, and just figuring out what works.
Start With a Routine
If your child does not currently follow a set routine, start here. Not only does it teach them the importance of balance and taking care of themselves, but it is also easier for younger children.
Routine type items, like brushing their teeth and hair, getting dressed, and taking care of their dirty clothes, are an excellent place to start. As they are ready, you can add in making their bed, tidying their room, etc.
It’s also good to work on an evening routine as well. If you struggle with chaos hitting every night, having an evening routine (for both you and the kids) can do wonders.
Move On to Meals
Mealtime chores, such as clearing the table, loading the dishwasher, wiping down the table, and vacuuming or sweeping the floor are a great place to work on the 5 step method below.
Mostly because they happen at least once a day, and often three or more times if you homeschool or have young children at home. Also, because they occur in a central location where it is easy to work with more than one child at a time.
Work on One Chore at a Time
As you start to move into more complicated chores, be sure only to train one task per child at a time. The goal is mastery at a single chore, so you want them to be able to focus on this.
Many chores don’t need to be done on a daily basis, but I encourage you to do so while you are in the process of training.
You can mix things up a little bit… so if you are teaching your son how to clean the bathroom and have more than one bathroom, feel free to do a different one each day. Just try to keep some consistency in the process of cleaning each of them.
Ignore Chore Charts, Systems, Etc. (to start)
Chore systems can be great, but as you are getting started with teaching the foundations of doing chores well, they are entirely unnecessary.
They make things more complicated, and the simple act of choosing one can be overwhelming in itself.
Once you have moved along in the process and your kids are doing more than a couple chores each day, it may make sense to start looking into a chore system to follow.
Payment for Chores
I strongly encourage you not to pay or reward your kids for doing their chores.
The goal of training them to do chores well is so that when they are launched into the “real world,” they are well prepared and fully capable of being good stewards of their belongings.
(I do also appreciate the payoff of them being good doers of chores while they are still at home.)
We do not get paid to do our chores or take good care of our possessions. We all do what is needed to participate and contribute to our family unit, and this should be no different for children.
This does not mean that kids shouldn’t have the opportunity to earn money. Once they handle all personal responsibilities, it is a great idea to have additional “jobs” available that kids can do and be rewarded with money when they have done good work.
Follow These 5 Steps and Teach Your Kids to Do Chores Well
#1 – Demonstrate
Start by showing your child how something should be done. You want them to understand what they need to do, but be careful not to take too much time on this step.
Kids are eager to do, and they get bored quickly. Make this process brief and don’t try to explain too much. You can do your explaining as they are doing and revisit the demonstration if necessary.
#2 – Do Together
This is where you will spend a lot of your time. Kids will enjoy this part because they like spending time with you, doing something together, and receiving the one on one attention.
Go through the entire chore with them, walking them step by step through the process. Give them 100% of your attention so that you can help, correct, and praise accordingly.
Don’t forget that your child is perfectly capable of doing a good job; they just need to be taught to do so. Fight the urge to let them off easy. If you don’t, it will be far more challenging to re-train them on how to do something the right way down the road.
#3 – Observe
The transition from Do Together to Observe should happen quite naturally. As you notice your child needing less help or correction, start to take a step back and let them complete the task on their own.
Continue to pay full attention to what they are doing, but start holding onto any feedback until they are done. If there is something they didn’t do correctly, or skipped altogether, encourage them to review their work. Teach them how to self-critique and to become a problem solver without you having to hold their hand every time.
#4 – Review
As you feel your child is gaining confidence and doing a great job with the chore, you are working on, start to ease your way out of the equation. Work to the point where the child is completing the chore on their own, but be sure to thoroughly review their work when they are done.
Continue to review their work, every time, until they have established consistency and trust.
Don’t skip this step, or they will most definitely learn to take shortcuts. It is far more effective to catch these slip-ups right away. If they go on for some time without your acknowledging them, it will be more difficult to break this bad habit, and you will likely need to move backward in the process.
You will also want to start utilizing consequences at this stage. If chores are not done right (as you have taught them to) and in a timely manner (a discussion you can have with them on what is acceptable) – there must be consequences. Be sure to use a consequence that does have an impact on your child, but does not discourage them.
You must learn to be consistent and not get into the habit of reminding them along the way.
#5 – Audit
Once your child has established consistency and trust in performing a given chore on their own over time, you can then start to cut back on your review process.
Start slow, by skipping a review here and there, and then continue to drop off more and more. If you start to notice any backsliding, quickly move your way back in this process and go back to whatever step necessary to get your child back on track.
Also, remember to use consequences, be consistent, and don’t ever resort to nagging them to do a chore.
Give it a Try
You will notice that I did not include a time frame on any of the steps above. Every kid is different, and they will all take different amounts of time and effort at each step.
Get to know what works well for each of your children in this process. If something seems to be taking forever, consider backing off on that task and trying something else. They might just not be ready for it.
Here’s to raising children that are capable and productive participants in society. Share any ideas or questions you may have in the comments below.
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