How to Get Your Kids to Help Out Around the House

Does it feel like your kids won’t do anything around the house?

It’s been a long day, your rushing to pick your kids up from school, just to rush to get home so you can rush to get dinner on the table, tidy up and rush to get your kids to bed. It’s just one big giant dose of rush, rush rush. Right now as we live through Covid isolation, rushing doesn’t seem to be the biggest issue. Instead the challenge on the forefront is,

“How in the hell can I get my kids to help out around the house?”

The reason kids don’t help out around the house isn’t because they are trying to be unhelpful. It’s either because they haven’t been taught, expected to or they were given rewards ,which actually turned them off to the idea of doing chores to help out. I want you to first know that all kids are capable. All kids can actually do so much more than we give them credit for. Starting from very early age, kids toddlers and beyond, are capable of helping out. As parents we need to first know what your child is capable accomplishing by giving them opportunities to practice, explore and try.

I want you to remember this very important quote; 

“Don’t do anything for your kids that they can do or almost do themselves.” 

When we do things for our kids that they can do themselves or almost do themselves, we send a message to our kids that they aren’t capable or we can do it better or faster. This decreases their confidence and slowly depletes their power buckets

When your kids do things on their own they build independence and responsibility, which fills their power bucket, decreases negative behaviors and saves you time and energy. Full power buckets means, you get to share the household workload and avoid those attention seeking behaviors you dread so much. 

Have age appropriate expectations

It’s important to have expectations, but the expectations also need to reasonable and age appropriate. For Example; you wouldn’t expect a 2 year old to vacuum the entire house, but you might have this expectation for your 10 year old. Or you wouldn’t expect a 3 year old to dust the entire house, but you could have him/her dust a specific shelf or counter. Think about your child’s abilities and their age when you start setting new fair boundaries. Each child is different and you know your kids better than anyone. Kids are more capable than we know, so give them a chance to explore and soar.

How do you make kids do chores without bribes or rewards?

Parents want to make chores a natural part of their child’s lives, but often don’t know how to do this without bribes or empty threats. This can be done, but first, you need to make a shift in perspective. To help encourage kids of all ages to help out around the house parents need to have the mindset of:

Everyone helps out

Kids want to mimic adults and specifically their parents. If you clean toilets, they want to clean toilets. If you wash and chop lettuce, they want to wash and chop lettuce. Foster their enthusiasm, don’t squash their enthusiasm. Give them opportunities to explore and soar even if it means more work for you. Getting your little ones to help out around the house might take more time and more effort, but in the long run you are building their confidence and teaching life skills. Lythcott-Haims writes in How to Raise an Adult,

“If building life skills means you know that your kid can pour himself some orange juice and clean it up if he spills, work ethic means knowing that your kid will pitch in and help when someone else spills something, instead of thinking ‘that doesn’t concern me,’ and walking away.”

#parentinggoals, right?!

Avoid rewards and bribes

Toddlers are born assistants! They desperately want to help mom or dad do anything that needs to be done. How much does your little one love to sweep or wash dishes? As toddlers, both of my boys lived on a chair at the kitchen sink washing dish after dish in a sink full of bubbles. No bribes or rewards needed.

Kids don’t need rewards for their assistance. As long as your expectations are; everyone helps out and the whole family pitches in, they won’t know any different. Kids who are given rewards such as a sticker, toy or ice cream for helping out around the house are less likely to help out a second time.

Children have a natural intrinsic motivator and soon as extrinsic rewards are given it can undermine and diminish their intrinsic drive. This is how battles begin around chores, homework, mealtimes and more. Rewards are a like band-aid. For the short term they work, but over time they lose their stick and they no longer do their job. Avoid rewards and bribes to help protect and build your child’s internal motivation to help out around the house and do things independently.

Avoid micromanaging

As kids learn and develop they need to be hands on. Yes, this can lead to more of a mess. Maybe more clean up and a bigger headache, but without these hands on learning opportunities, your kid are robbed the chance to build life skills. These are skills that will stick with them for life. Studies have shown that kids who help out at home are happier adults. This leads back to filling those power buckets and meeting your child’s emotional needs. Ensuring their self-confidence and sense of accomplishment flourishes. 

Practice makes better

When you give your child the chance to help out around the house, give them space to figure things out on their own. They may not clean the floor perfectly or tidy each toy up into the right bin. The grapes may not be rinsed long enough and the dusting may have just made the house dustier. That’s okay. it’s not about perfection, it’s about developing their life values and skills to be supportive and helpful.

Don’t expect perfection

It won’t be fun for your kids to help out around the house if you ask them to do something and then micromanage every step. They will learn to doubt their capabilities and fear failure. They will worry they won’t do it as well or as efficiently as you. In turn you will encourage them to not help out, rather than help out. Instead, accept that they may not do as good of a job in the beginning. It might be a bit messier and it may take up more of your time. But also know that they will get better and better over time with practice!

So, as you shift your perspective and begin to get your kids helping out more around the house, remember to make it fun. Get involved as a family and don’t expect perfection. Done is better than perfect and your kids are so very capable.

“Don’t do anything for you kids that they do or almost do themselves”

Keep this quote in mind as you begin having your kids help out more around the house. Believe in your kids and all they are capable of doing independently.

Leave me a comment about what you find the most challenging part about getting your kids to help out around the house. I will personally write you back!


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