How To: Getting Kids to Chip In Around the House

Susan P. Epstein, LCSW

We often make the same resolutions every year: drop some weight, save more money, read more. While these are all worthy resolutions, we often abandon them just days into the new year.

What if we instead focus our effort into meaningful goals that benefit the entire household? Goals like getting everyone to help with household chores.

Rewards often don’t work for getting kids to chip in around the house. Let me ask you, do you really blame your kids for not wanting to take out the trash, set the table, sweep the floor or clean up their rooms? Do you want to do it? Does paying them work in the long term? If you’ve tried the reward system, you know that it doesn’t work forever.

Here are 4 tips to get your kids on board with helping out around the house:

1. Explain why doing the chore is necessary.

A chore that is not fun or interesting can become more meaningful if you can show your kids that it is part of the bigger picture. Explain that if each family member does one small chore each day you will have more time for the fun things your family gets to do…such as swimming or watching a movie together. You can draw pictures of each person’s contribution to show how your family operates like a machine with moving parts that helps the house run smoothly.

2. Say out loud… “Yes, I know that this chore is BORING.”

Let your kids know that you understand that cleaning their room isn’t a lot of fun. This isn’t a lecture…it is empathy.

3. Let the kids do their chores their own way. Don’t control them.

You can tell them that you want the table set, but you don’t have to micro-manage where the fork and spoon go. Let them have fun and use their creative minds while doing their chore. All that matters is that it gets completed.

4. And if all else fails, use the Tom Sawyer method.

If you remember the story, Tom is white washing the fence and he is not having fun, but then he gets an idea. He tells his friend that painting the fence is not a grim chore, rather a fantastic privilege. His friend asks to try, but Tom won’t let him, saying it is way too fun. Finally, he gets his friend to give him an apple to try painting. Soon after, more boys arrive and vie for the privilege of painting the fence. So pretend you are so enjoying washing the dishes. When you make it look fun your kids will soon be begging you to help!

When everyone in the family contributes to the chores, you teach a valuable lesson: The family is a team. I hope this positive change can help make your family’s new year a little brighter for everyone.

This blog was brought to life by PESI speaker Susan P. Epstein, LCSW. Susan is the author of the best selling books, Over 60 Techniques, Activities & Worksheets for Challenging Children & Adolescents and 55 Creative Approaches for Challenging & Resistant Children & Adolescents. She has also authored Your Out of Control Teen, The Little Book With a Lot of Attitude: A Guide to Effective Parent-Teen Communication (2009), two parenting books Are You Tired of Nagging: How to Get Cooperative Kids (2008) and The Take Back Your Parenting Powers System (2007) & and has co-authored a children's book about death, loss and healing, The Cat Who Lost Its Meow (2008).

In addition to her clinical work, Susan is a parent coach, certified health coach, national child behavior expert, and has contributed to magazines Family, Parents, American Baby and New York. She founded Parenting Powers, a coaching company that provides parent coaching and supervision and training to professionals working with challenging kids.

Topic: Children and Adolescent Behavioral

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