Helping Kids Help Around the House

Teach your children to take responsibility by assigning them household tasks.

By FamilyTime


Chores! Kids hate them! Why bother battling with yours when the laundry needs folding, the dog needs walking, or the dishwasher needs loading? Isn't it easier to do it yourself?

Yes. It is. But it's not great for your kids.

Chores help all children build self-esteem and a sense of responsibility. Here's how you can help your child learn to help you.

How to Start
Begin by establishing a chore chart. If not all your kids can read, make the chart with simple pictures of things you want done. Make the charts colorful and leave space to check off chores when done. Post it in the kids' rooms, the kitchen, or another well-traveled spot in the house.

Facilitating Chores
You can encourage chores through organizing a system that makes the tasks seem a little less onerous. In bedrooms, have a clothes hamper near the door so children learn to put their dirty laundry in one spot. In the playroom or bedroom, use bins and storage containers so that when cleaning up, children can see where things go.

In bedrooms and entrance areas, install wall pegs for hanging hats, jackets, and sports equipment. And in bedrooms or family rooms, install shelves for books and videos.

Beyond the Chore Chart
You can instill a sense of responsibility in your children by incorporating them into the household routine. You know: "We're a family and families help each other." This is true!

Helping out need not be limited to tasks on the chore chart. In the kitchen, for example, small children can stir and mix batters and other simple preparations, while older children can follow simple recipes and prepare meals. And, of course, all children can learn to clean up after meals. 

When you rake leaves, weed flower beds or wipe down outdoor furniture, insist that the kids help out. This needn't be a stern order, but instead a reasonable request. "Dad and I thought we'd get those leaves raked on Saturday morning, so don't make plans before noon."

A Happy Household

When the whole family pitches in, each member pulling his or her weight, the household runs more smoothly. Very few people enjoy chores and so expect ongoing complaints and whining, but when the kids know what is expected of them, when you work together, even the griping will lessen. And your children will grow into adults who understand that the dishwasher doesn't empty itself and clothes need to be folded.

Most important, they will take these simple chores in stride as they mature and won't be as overwhelmed by the responsibilities of adulthood.