Getting children to do chores is the worst. Toddlers may start happily helping you clean the house, but somewhere along the way, this will end, and you will have to come up with some new ways to get your kids to do their share of the housework.
Trying to get kids to clean up after themselves can, for some families, be one of the most contentious issues that parents and kids have to deal with. Everyone is busy, and for most people, there are probably a million things that you would rather be doing than doing chores. But unfortunately, someone has to do it, and there are some surprising benefits when your kids learn necessary domestic skills.
You may have already tried numerous approaches to getting kids to help clean up with minimal success. Everyone has a different approach to cleaning with kids, and there are quite a lot of conflicting theories out there. So we’ve rounded up some of the best advice and show you some cool apps that might help you along the way.
- They make most of the mess.
- It stinks living with people who don’t clean up after themselves. So if you want to save your kids a whole lot of trouble later in their lives (from angry spouses and partners), you need to teach them how to live with people.
- It helps relieve some of the burdens from exhausted parents. No adult is going to react too well after putting in a long day at the office to have to come home and watch your kids playing their fourth hour of Minecraft while you rush to do the dinner, dishes, cleaning up, laundry, etc. So for the sake of your own sanity, it is worth a bit of effort.
- It will make them successful adults. Depressingly, there is a study by Marty Rossman, a professor at the University of Minnesota, which has shown that one of the best predictors of young adults’ success in their mid-20s was whether that person started regular household chores when they were three or four.
Not to worry if you didn’t happen to have your kids making dinner and doing your ironing before they have learned to bend over without falling because it isn’t too late.
Essential Ways to Get Kids to Do Their Chores
In an ideal world, kids would happily take responsibility for doing their chores and duties that need to be done. They will do this because it helps the family as a whole. We all know that this lofty idea doesn’t translate well into reality. Chores are tedious, and most kids don’t want to do them unless there is something in it for them. There is a plethora of articles and sites that can give you advice on how to get your kids to do their chores that can be boiled down to these simple points:
- Start them early This is important because it shows them that they have an essential role to play that can help the family and that tidying up is an essential and regular part of their day. It takes time to show small children how to do things, and they won’t do the best job in the beginning, but remember you are working for the long term.
- Be consistent. This helps to establish routine, and they will learn that the work has to be done regularly if you aren’t clear on what needs to be done and when your kids will put off what they are expected to do, hoping that the job will be completed by someone else.
- Be specific with instructions. You need to tell your children exactly what you want them to do and be sure that they understand what you are telling them. If you tell them, “Clean your room, your idea of what a clean room is will probably be very different than your child’s idea of what a clean room is. Break it down into smaller manageable tasks: Put your laundry away, make your bed, put your books on the bookshelf, etc.
- Set a good example. And if you want kids to learn to clean up after themselves, you’ve got to show them how to do it. A lot of people say that you need to show kids the joy of cleaning up and keeping a tidy house. If you are always grumbling about doing the laundry, you are going to have a hard time convincing kids that doing laundry is something they should do.
- Don’t nag. Your kids will hate hearing it, and you will hate doing it. I think we can probably all agree that nagging rarely works. What you should do instead is us “When/Then” technique that was made popular by Amy McCready, the author of If I Have to Tell You One More Time… Which means that you start with a WHEN and end with a THEN. “WHEN you finish cleaning up your toys, THEN you can go and play.”
- Show them you appreciate their efforts. Everyone likes to be appreciated for the work they have done, and kids are no different. If you want to keep them motivated and happy to help you, then show them you appreciate what they have done to help the household (even if they don’t do the best job).
There is a good breakdown of age-appropriate chores that you can print out. It says what kids of each age range are capable of doing.
Cleaning and Chore Apps and Websites for Kids
If you have done the above tips and nothing is helping, you should consider a reward system. This is generally a bit of a contentious issue with people. Some people love reward systems with kids; some don’t think kids should be rewarded for chores. If you are thinking of using a reward system, there are a couple of apps that you should check out. ChoreMonster uses a point system to log chores that kids have completed. Parents can add rewards when the kids have completed a set amount of tasks or acquired the right amount of points.
If you have an app crazy toddler, you could try out the app TidyUp! clean the room & house. This app is a puzzle that shows kids how to put objects in a room into their proper place.
You could also try Chore Wars. This is a site that also uses a point system to encourage kids to get their chores done.
Teaching your kids to do the housework is hard, and it takes time, but it’s better than the alternative, which is getting stuck doing all the cleaning yourself. You can expect some arguments and resistance, but with a bit of praise, encouragement and some rewards (if that is your thing) your kids will eventually figure out how to clean things up without being told and will learn some super useful domestic skills that will serve them well for their whole lives