How To Get Children To Do Chores

Screen Shot 2016-05-20 at 1.57.14 PMHow do I get my child to do chores?

We hear that statements from parents all the time! One main reason that children don’t respond is when parents make the chores “no fun” by nagging at their children to get them done. Getting your children to get their chores done can become a battle. When parents nag, nag, nag, children will stop listening. The conflict can sometimes turn into an even a bigger battle. Some parents feel that “chores” is a negative word and they should be called “tasks”. Either is fine, it depends how whether you use the word negatively or positively. Here are a few steps to get the chores done!

Make A List

Take a look at all the chores in the house and make a list of chores your children could do that would fit their age. Listing chores that mom and dad do helps let children know that their parents do chores too. Children can do chores from 18 months or older.

An 18-month-old child may need guidance each time to help them keep on task and learn when they need to do their chore. Many times for young children it is a privilege to help mom and dad. At age three children can have regular chores that they need to do each day.

Teaching Children How To Do Chores

Kids will need help till they can learn the tasks and be able to do it right. You might say, “Clean your room!” What does that mean? The task may need to be broke down into steps so they understand. “Let’s make the bed first, then pick up the books, then etc…” Now and then there also might need to be reminders now to do the task. If children have not done any chores, start out with one or two tasks till they are able to do these on a regular basis.

Charts and Check Lists

Charts and check lists are great for kids because they can see when a chore is done and they can see how many times it is done in a week, a month or whatever the time schedule is. All children need to know that chores will always be a part of being a family. Chores are definitely a family affair.

Time Limit

Set a time the chore should be done. For best results have it relate to a time in the child’s schedule, such as breakfast, dinner, bedtime, or after school. This helps the child remember when it should be done. It also can be set for a specific time to be competed, if the child is old enough to understand time.

Make Chores Fun

It should be an enjoyable time, so you may want to make statements like, “Let’s see how fast you can get the table set! Remember you have to do it right.” This way you are giving your child positive comments to motivate them to do better.


Consistency is also the key. This can be a hard task because many times your days are really busy or daily schedule changes. Just remember when you are home it is very important to keep the chore list going. Both parents need to be clear what the chores are for each child and when they are to be done, otherwise the child will figure out fast who is going to make them do their chores and who is not. This is where consistency breaks down. It has to become part of the daily or weekly routine.


It is very important to reward when your child does their chores without being told. This is one thing parents don’t do very well. If the child is doing the right thing we have a tendency to overlook the good behavior.

It is better to reward for completion of tasks, but sometimes there should be consequences if the chore doesn’t get done. Consequences can come two ways: taking things away or introducing extra tasks to be done.

You can also reward kids after they have completed so many days of chores. For very young children this may have to be daily at first and work your way to weekly. I would suggest extra privileges or special activity in place of gifts and money. You might say, “You now can stay up 20 minutes longer tonight since you got your chores done.” As a child gets older giving an allowance is okay because that is a great way to start teaching the use of money.

Remember parents to do your chores too, because children learn the most from what they see you doing, than what you are telling them to do.

Gail Brand, Extension Educator | The Learning Child

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