How To Convince Kids to Use a Chore Chart

Young boy watering flowers


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Skeptical that your kids will actually use a chore chart? You're not alone. Many parents don't bother trying to implement a chore chart system because they don't think that the chart will get any use. Other parents have tried to set up systems in the past, only to have kids ignore them. Want to get your children to really use a chore chart? Here are some tips that can help.

1. Let Kids Help Plan the System

So you have visions of the perfect chart in your head? Chances are it doesn't fit with the picture your kids have. To really get your child to buy into the system, let your kids have some age-appropriate input. Ask them questions about how the system should work. When is the deadline to complete chores? Where will the chore chart be located? Can kids mark off their own chores for parents to check later? Letting kids have even the smallest amount of input helps make them feel like the chart belongs to them, too.

2. Tie Chores to Something

If there are no consequences positive and negative for completing or not completing chores, then there's no incentive to get them done. Whether you choose to tie completing chores to an allowance, a fun activity, or another incentive, it needs to be tied to something.

3. Offer a Training Period

Give a little on the job training for jobs that might be more difficult. During this time, you may be helping or demonstrating how to do the chores, but you're really lessening your load in the long run. A training period lets you show your children how a chore should look when it is completed.

4. Don't Overwhelm Children With Chores

Make sure that what you are asking them to do is possible. Chores should be age appropriate and able to be completed in a normal amount of time. Distribute chores according to age and ability, so that everyone is completing a fair amount of work. Overwhelmed kids won't learn to do a good job. And soon chores will become a huge burden instead of a normal brief part of their day.

5. Make It Fun

Well, as fun as chores can be. Try cartoon character, stickers, or bright colors. Some kids will appreciate getting to color in a box or place their own sticker on a chart. I'm often surprised by how much older kids are willing to do for a cartoon sticker.

6. Surprise the Kids

To make sure they'll actually check the chart. Include notes or small surprises near the chart occasionally. One of my friends sometimes substitutes fun items on her chore chart, so that "vacuum the living room carpet", might be followed by "Watch 30 minutes of television" just to change up the routine. Kids love these occasional surprises.

7. Offer Some Choices

Try offering choices of chores for kids who are super reluctant. Offering kids a choice between two chores can give them ownership of their job. If chore choice isn't practical, try giving children the option of the order of their chores, or what cleaning supplies they'd like to use. A little choice goes a long way.

8. Start Young

Even small children can be responsible for small chores. Children who watch mommy or daddy clean up all the messes in the house, learn that cleaning up is for grown-ups, instead of for everyone. We've got an edge with small children because they are often so excited to help at anything, that they'll be happy to help with chores.

9. Let Them Mess Up

One of the best ways to get your children to pay attention to the chore chart is to allow them to ignore it and receive the consequences that come from not doing their chores. It seems harsh, but for my kids, staying upstairs cleaning their room while everyone who completed their chores plays video games downstairs is a huge motivator to complete the chart. Don't step in and save a child from the age-appropriate consequences just because you don't want them to miss out. It's a hard lesson, but a powerful one.

10. Change the Chart Up

The same chores day after day get old. Don't be afraid to substitute in some new chores along with daily basics. If your kids have mastered folding the laundry, maybe they are ready to learn how to sort the laundry into loads? Look for the next step that your kids might be ready for. Your children will get the opportunity to learn how to do new things and getting bored with chores won't happen as quickly.

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