Do you find yourself repeating your request over and over? Do you find yourself yelling at your kids because they do not do what you ask them to do? Arguments between parents and children regarding chores are among the most common I hear in therapy. They need to do their chores, but we fail to motivate them to do them in a timely manner.
Here are 5 practical steps you can take if you are constantly nagging your kids to do their household chores.
1) Do it for them.
If your child refuses to clean up their room in the time frame you have allotted them, clean it up for them. You can let them know that if they do not clean their room, you will do it for them, and they will not like how you will clean their room. This is where you will go into their room with a big trash bag and collect anything on the floor, or piled up in the closet, or under the bed. Do what you like with the contents. If it is too much clutter, it might be a good time to part with some of the items. If it is taking out the trash or dishes you are having issues with, they have just lost all privileges because you were left to do their work.
2) Stop Arguing and Nagging.
Your words have lost impact because there has been no follow-through. So stop it. They will eventually come to you with a request. They want to eat dinner? Not before they clean their room? They want a ride to baseball practice? Not until they take out the trash. If they give you too much talk-back or the arguments are bad-natured, you might want to consider a total blackout. No dinner, make yourself a sandwich, and go to bed. No baseball practice; we will revisit your privileges tomorrow when you have done what is asked of you. This works with video games, television, going outside to play with friends; anything they enjoy is a privilege and is potential leverage, so make use of them!
3) Consider an Allowance
I usually recommend only giving allowance for chores that they are not supposed to be doing anyway. Certain chores are expected of them because they are part of the family, like throwing clothes in the laundry, perhaps even doing their own laundry, putting away, and cleaning dishes. All this will be up to you, but certain chores will garnish an allowance, such as helping with yard work and deep cleaning the house, and folding and putting away all the clothes (not just their own). I like this last one because, with a household of 11, it does not take long for the laundry to pile up beyond what any one person can do. Allowance can still be stipulated that their normal, everyday, household chores be done. You don't get paid, or you cannot do these chores for allowance until your regular chores are done.
4) Create A System
A system is adding structure to your chore list. After eating, dishes will be done and trash taken out before you do anything else; homework, television, etc. Before going out to play, your bed and room must be made and cleaned up. This helps our children learn that certain responsibilities must be met before they get free time. This tip goes hand in hand with the second tip. With this one, you have set aside time where everyone pitches in. One child might be doing the dishes while another cleaning the dining room and another is taking out the trash. Chores are always better when you have others around. That brings me to my last tip.
5) Consider Doing Them Together
If you were to calculate how much time you have spent nagging your child to do their chore, in the end, you might discover it would have been easier to do it with them. Many parents result in doing the chores themselves for this very reason. It becomes too much hassle. But that teaches your children no responsibility, and if they complain enough they will get their way. Expand this out, and it could very well lead them to become more entitled. Not only will you not like your kids, but no one else will either.
Instead of doing it yourself, have them help you. Pick at least one chore that you can do together, one they may be struggling with. One of the reasons we have our kids do chores is because we need the help. We don't have enough time in the day between work, preparing dinner, helping them with homework, spending quality time with them. This is a good time to turn on some music and enjoy talk time with your child.
Working together cultivates a strong sense of solidarity. It helps your children develop better cooperation, communication, and problem-solving skills that will help keep your house in order in more ways than one.
Odell Terrell is a mental health counselor in Greensboro, NC. He graduated with a MS in Counseling from Divine Mercy University in Arlington, VA, and places an emphasis on working with spiritual integration, adults and adolescents, trauma, family and children, and grief and loss. Odell received his undergraduate degree from the University of St. Leo's in St. Leo Florida, with a degree in Psychology. He has spent his last 15 years working in the field of emergency services. It is in working with people in emergency situations, both patients and first responders, that Odell has learned how to deal respectively with people in crises mode, helping instill a sense of hope and healing. Odell is happily married, for 16 years, and is the father of 9 children and brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to his family and child therapy practice.