The dictionary definition of a chore is “a tedious but necessary task.” And if an adult already finds the activity tedious, why should a child look excited at the demand to help out at home by doing the dishes, folding clean clothes, setting and clearing the table, and so on? Like adults, kids aren’t usually fans of chores. But there are ways to make these tasks more enjoyable and something they even might look forward to.

You should remember that there are many benefits to motivating your children to do small jobs inside and outside the house. As tedious as these tasks sound (and as much as kids protest to do them), the obligation to fulfill some chores will teach them the importance of being responsible and taking care of themselves when they are older – and you’re not around.

Let’s take a look at five easy strategies for helping kids feel positive about the idea of chores.

1. Trust and Freedom

You were once a child and must remember very well how much you hated when your parents asked you to wash the dishes or clean the leaves from the yard and usually demanded that it be done “right now.” 

It’s at this stage of life that kids learn to have self-discipline. That’s why it is important that instead of forcing them to do things and yelling orders, you trust them to get chores done and allow them the freedom and time to do so.

Of course, it requires some flexibility and diplomacy. Tell the children that they can watch TV or use the computer/smartphone at will, but only after their daily tasks have been completed. That way, instead of the threatening “right now,” they will decide the best time to start working and manage their time by making their own choices (the later they start, the less they will enjoy their electronic devices).

2. Make It a Game

Popular wisdom says if you can’t beat them, join them. Sometimes the only way to motivate your children to do some housework is to treat chores as a game and make them more enjoyable and challenging. This approach is easier than it sounds. Here are some tips to get started.

  • If you have more than one child at home, create a chart with all the household chores and assign points and time limits to turn the tasks into a competition.
  • Roll a dice and assign a chore to each number, letting luck decide which activity your children will do.
  • Offer some kid-sized supplies (like sponges and brushes) and encourage them to recreate the actions of mom and dad by washing dishes, sweeping the house, etc.
  • Turn your housework routine into a scavenger hunt: folding and storing clothes gives them a clue, making the bed leads to the next step, etc. 

3. Use a Reward System

Using a reward system will make chores even more enjoyable for kids – and prepare them to trade their skills for money in adulthood. Rewards can be symbolic or even monetary, such as pennies in a jar or some Monopoly money that children must collect and then exchange for items like snacks or small toys. This way, you will also teach them the basics of finance and the value of saving.

You can also create a “family chart” where the sum of the activities carried out by the children over a week or a month entitles them to a special activity. Let’s say a week of doing the dishes unlocks the “going to the movies on the weekend” reward, and a month of keeping their room clean entitles them to a small road trip somewhere.

4. Positive Reinforcement

If you hated when your parents made you do some chores, you know that screaming and demanding your kids to do the same is no use. Practicing positive reinforcement through praise is the best way to make the undertaking more enjoyable for them.

Always praise your children for a job well done and suggest where they can improve rather than criticizing them for an activity that was done wrong or incomplete. This way, you also encourage kids to feel confident and accomplished after getting chores done.

5. An Exclusive Element

Incorporating an exclusive element to chores helps make the undertaking more enjoyable for kids. For example, while they’re working on some task, they get to do things they normally wouldn’t – and are given more responsibility that way.

You normally don’t allow your kids to use yard tools independently. But with your supervision and care, you can encourage them to do some yard work and have access to “adult tools,” something that will challenge them and make them feel more responsible. Don’t forget to protect your children from weather hazards with the proper gear, such as gloves or kids’ durable prescription sunglasses.

Teaching Responsibility is Better Than Shouting Orders

When you try to do chores fun for kids or even teens, one of the goals is to keep the house organized. But not only: the bottom line is that your children will be learning responsibilities. 

Remember that as much as you love them, in the future, you will not be by their side asking them to do the dishes or clean their rooms. They must learn to do this naturally. By turning everyday tasks into a competition or a game, you teach them a lesson or two about responsibilities, choices, and consequences.