As parents, our job is to make sure that our kids grow up safe, happy, and healthy. Part of that is teaching them how to live with no sense of entitlement and how to serve others. Being stuck at home with the kids 24/7 no doubt presents its challenges, but it also offers many opportunities. For one, it’s a great time to teach them the value of contributing to the success of your household. Here are some tips to get your kids to help out around the house—not just to lift the burden off of you and your partner, but also so that your children can grow to be thoughtful, considerate, and helpful adults.
But first, why ask them to help out in the first place?
You may be thinking, “But kids are messy. If they try to do some cleaning, I will for sure have to re-do the task they’ve done.” It’s not so much about how the task is done; it’s more about training them towards doing their part in building your home. At the same time, so much research has shown that implementing a reward system is incredibly beneficial for kids. So if you reward them for helpful behavior, it might motivate them to continue doing it until they become good at it.
Here are the kinds of house errands your kids can help out with, according to age.
At this age, many toddlers and young children already show a propensity for helping others. Encourage this behavior by teaching them how to:
- Put their toys and stuffed dolls in the proper place
- Place their used clothes in the hamper
- Throw their trash in the garbage bin
- Brush and pet your pets
- Bring specific items to you
Encouraging toddlers and young kids to do simple tasks can help improve their motor skills. Don’t forget to offer praises for the little things they’re doing, too—it will help motivate them to keep on doing it, and it can create a bond between the two of you.
Kids this age, on the other hand, need to feel a bit more independent and capable. Teach them how to:
- Sort laundry
- Match socks
- Bring the laundry to the right rooms
- Set the table with non-breakable utensils and plates
- Water the plants
- Empty small trash cans
- Make their beds
- Help organize and put groceries away
You can help your kids motivate themselves into doing these tasks by negotiating with them. Once they’re done bringing the laundry to the right rooms, they can continue to play.
Kids this age are like a sponge; they have a great capacity for learning new things. They are also much more physically capable of doing more demanding tasks. Teach them how to:
- Help out with food prep
- Fold and put away laundry
- Wipe down, set, and clear the table
- Empty and load the dishwasher
- Vacuum the floor
- Wash the car
- Rake leaves
Once you’ve taught them how to do these specific chores, step back. Offer praises and congratulations even if the task wasn’t done perfectly. It will encourage them to know that their parents have their back and that you’re not asking them to make life difficult.
This is the age where your kids will have to learn basic chores and other skills to survive being a roommate in college or being someone’s partner when the time comes. Teach them how to:
- Take care of their younger siblings
- Cook at least one meal per week
- Clean up after the pets and take them for a walk
- Iron clothes
- Do the laundry
- Grocery shop, especially if they already have their driver’s license
Don’t enforce gender stereotypes. Boys can cook and clean, while girls can wash the car and handle some yard work. When your kids learn how to do house chores properly, they won’t be surprised by how hard it is to maintain a home or how to be an “adult” when the time comes that they have to move away from you.
- Create a calendar for the kind of chores your kids have to do and who is in charge of those specific tasks. You can also add in the rewards that await them when they do those chores.
- Don’t force your kids to do chores that are beyond their capabilities. If they cannot fix your broken sink, call a plumber and have them take a look at it.
At the end of the day, all family members stand to gain when the kids learn how to help out around the house at an early age. Just don’t forget to communicate with them why you’re doing this, and remind them that it comes from a place of love, not punishment.