Start early. The earlier you expect your kids to take an active role in helping around the house, the easier you’ll find it is to get them to lend a hand. Even kids as young as three can help out! Though it’s never too late for basic training, it’s sure easier to begin earlier.*
Five Minute Family Clean-Up. Assign a room, hand out cleaning supplies, set a buzzer for five minutes and then dash to your designated area to clean things “spick and span” before the timer goes off. Kids love to try and “beat the clock” and you’ll have the house back in order in minutes!
Adjust by age and expectations. Adjust chore requirements for younger kids so they’re not overwhelmed. Distribute chores so little kids and bigger family members are assigned responsibilities aimed at their ability and everyone is contributing their fair share.
Set clear deadlines. Chores should have specific time limits (“by bedtime” or “before Saturday”) instead of saying they must be done immediately. Special situations birthdays, illnesses, or important upcoming test deserve a reprieve.
Use reminders. Charts using words or pictures that list job assignment and completion dates are helpful. Even nonreaders can “read” their chores chart with pictures of what they are expected to do. Kids can then off mark their chores as they are completed.
Acknowledge efforts. Don’t forget to praise your kids for jobs that are done well and on time. Remember to give yourself a pat on the back when your kid masters a new task.
Show, don’t just tell. One study found if kids weren’t taught how to do the chore by a parent they usually gave up in frustration.** So introduce each task using three simple steps. Teach: Go through the task as you explain each step so your child knows what to do; Supervise: Now watch him to ensure he can handle the job. Inspect: Your child does the chore independently, but knows to expect a surprise inspection from you to ensure he’s succeeding at the level you expect.
Know Your Chore War “Alert Level”
Visit www.clrchorewars.com and take the CLR Chore War “Alert Level” quiz to better understand your and your child’s cleaning personalities and how they interact. Receive additional tips based on your cleaning habits so you can work together in harmony.
*University of Arizona: Sampson Lee Blair study (University of Arizona Sociology Department)
**Study on chores from Pick Up Your Socks...and Other Skills Growing Children Need, by Elizabeth Crary (Parenting Press).