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6 Tips for Starting Your Children on Chores

Parenting is the one thing that we can all agree to disagree on.
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With different views on discipline, screen time, nutrition and other factors, it seems like getting every mother on the same page is impossible.

One thing we can all agree on? The importance of children helping out around the home. While the age when this becomes appropriate may be a heavily disputed fact, we all want our children to learn independence and to be able to be a part of keeping the home livable. This means that regardless of when you start, learning how to get your children to do chores is important. Follow the six tips below to bring a little order to your home and routine starting today.

1.Offer a Reward or Incentive

Offering your child an allowance is a personal choice. Whether it’s reward based – for chores completed – or punishment based – reduced when certain things are not completed correctly – an allowance can give children a reason to want to become a part of the home-keeping process.

Just in case you’re wondering where other parents stand on this issue, a study completed by the American Institute of CPAs found that 61 percent of parents pay their children allowances of one kind or another. The majority of these parents start the process by age 8. The actual amounts given vary from one family to the next, but it seems that the majority of American families offer allowance incentives for their children.

If this is a route you’d like to pursue for your children, establish guidelines up front. Discuss the allowance, how it can be earned, how it should be spent and other specifics.

2.Be Age Appropriate

A toddler can’t fold laundry or take out the trash. Setting children up with chores that aren’t right for them will only lead to frustration and disappointment on both sides. Instead, think about the following tasks for each age group and add in others as appropriate:


  • Picking up toys
  • Making the bed
  • Putting books back on the shelf
  • Taking dishes to the sink or dishwasher
  • Putting dirty clothes in the hamper
  • Retrieving items when asked

Young Elementary:

  • Setting the table – with assistance
  • Clearing the table
  • Cleaning up messes
  • Putting silverware away
  • Helping prepare dinner – gathering ingredients and putting them away
  • Cleaning up yard toys

Older Elementary:

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  • Loading and unloading the dishwasher
  • Dusting furniture
  • Sweeping floors
  • Put them in charge of washing towels or their clothes
  • Learning to fold clothing
  • Feeding the pets
  • Putting away groceries
  • Washing windows


  • Mowing the yard
  • Taking out the trash
  • Walking the dog
  • Running errands – when driving is legal
  • Making dinner
  • Watching younger siblings

Outline Tasks

If children are unsure of what they’re supposed to be doing, they’re unlikely to do it. Therefore, making expectations clear, along with what will happen when those expectations aren’t met, is critical. Consider creating a chart and keeping it somewhere central. Use images for young children and words for older children who can read them. Separate each task by the day it is expected to be completed. Offer reminders to check the chart throughout the day.

Create a Tracking System

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Consider a tracking system, such as marbles or quarters that can be moved from one jar to another when a task is complete or a sticker chart. Things like these help children track when they’ve completed what is expected of them.

Avoid Empty Threats

Threatening, fighting and yelling are unlikely to motivate children. Instead, stick to your system. If something is not done, don’t offer second chances; just carry out the preset measures without argument. Fighting over chores will add stress for everyone without measurable results.

Compliment Improvements

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Instead of focusing on the negative, think about the positive. Compliment children when tasks are completed appropriately and discuss what was done well throughout the day. The more positive you can be about the chore process, the more empowered your children will feel to succeed.

Setting up a system for chores doesn’t have to be a nightmare. Focus on the tasks listed above and start small. In no time, your children will be contributing members of the family who are more equipped for life on their own in the future.


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