Do you have suggestions on how to motivate you children to help with chores and how to minimize whining? I would greatly appreciate any advice. -Amanda
First off, Amanda, I just want to encourage you: your desire to train and teach your kids to work will be such a gift to them. Truly.
You see, my parents were very committed to instilling in us the value of hard work from an early age. And I’m so grateful!
For as long as I can remember, I had chores that were assigned to me and I was expected to do. When we moved out to the country when I was 10 years old, I was given even more chores and learned more what hard work is all about.
I spent hours when I was in the my early teens working in the garden, watering trees, and mowing our huge yard. At the time, I didn’t necessarily love the chores, but looking back, I’m so grateful my parents taught us the value of hard work and instilled in us a strong work ethic.
In fact, I believe that a strong work ethic is one of the greatest gifts my parents gave me. It well prepared me for the struggles and setbacks I’ve encountered in the years since I’ve moved away from home and has helped me continue to persevere even when I might feel exhausted and ready to quit.
Practically speaking, here are 5 ideas to help minimize whining and encourage your kids to work:
1. Start Small.
Don’t overwhelm your kids with a bunch of new chores at once. Start your children out with one or two simple chores and then gradually add more as they catch on and improve.
In addition, make sure your children need to know what is expected of them when you assign a chore to them. If you never let them know what you expect of them, it will only result in frustration for you — and for them!
Need some age-appropriate chore ideas? Check out this post with some chore ideas for kids of different ages. (Keep in mind, though, that each child is different. What might be simple for one 4-year-old, could be utterly overwhelming to another.)
2. Be patient.
Training requires repetition. Don’t expect a child to do a job well at first.
Think about when you first started learning to ride a bike or drive a car. You didn’t automatically know how to do it.
You had to practice. You had to slowly learn. You had to make mistakes.
It often takes a lot of repetitive teaching, gentle correcting, and practice before a child can do a job well. Don’t expect perfection–especially when they are young. What matters is that they are putting forth effort and trying their best.
3. Teach By Example
It’s well be said that, “More is caught than taught”. We can’t expect our children to work hard if they don’t see us working hard.
One great way to encourage them by your example is to have your child work alongside you. Most children love to spend time with Mom, no matter what it is you’re doing. So take advantage of this and enthusiastically invite them to help you with whatever chore you’re working on.
While you’re working together, talk, sing, laugh, and praise them repeatedly for helping you. Let them see you working hard and enjoying it.
Yes, it takes longer, but it’s worth it! I remind myself that my goal as a parent is to work myself out of a job, so the sooner I can teach them to work alongside me, the more help they’ll become as the years go by!
4. Make it Fun
A few ideas:
- Turn on Music. We love to turn on upbeat music and sing and dance while working — it’s fun, it makes the time go by quickly and it makes chores much more enjoyable!
- Have a Race. We often set the timer and have a race to see who can finish their chores first. Or, you can race against the clock, instead of racing against each other or see how many things we can collectively pick up and put away within 10 minutes. When we all work together quickly, it’s amazing how much we can get done in a short amount of time!
- Use Child-Sized Brooms & Mops. My children got mops for Christmas one year from my parents and it was, by far, the hit present. All the cousins spent the morning cleaning Grandma and Grandpa’s kitchen tile after the presents were opened! And their enthusiasm for using them still hasn’t waned!
5. Find the Good & Praise It
It’s easy to want to focus on pointing out all the things a child does wrong and where they need to improve.
Instead of dwelling on what they didn’t do right, focus most of your energies on praising those things they did well.
Encouragement and affirmation go a long way. In the same way, criticism and harsh words can do a lot of damage.
Make it a goal to praise 10 times more than you point out areas for improvement. Not only will your words of praise build up your child, but they will motivate and inspire them to continue working hard and developing the character quality of diligence.
Working for a reward is always more motivating! Figure out what motivates your child and then use that as a reward.
- Have your child work toward a larger prize. This could be something like a toy or DVD or a date with mom. Create a reward chart for them to track their progress.
- Give instant rewards. It’s a standing rule at our house that once all of your chores and homework is finished for the afternoon, you can watch a movie or have 30 minutes of iPad time. None of our kids want to miss this time so they are highly motivated to get their chores done!
- Download an app. Both and offer the ability to assign, track, and reward kids for chores. With MyJobChart.com, you can set up an Amazon store and assign points per chore and prizes for points earned. Once a child completes a job and you sign off on it, they earn points. They can then cash out these points in the Amazon store for prizes you’ve pre-determined.
- Consider paying your children for some chores. We have paid chores and non-paid chores at our house. The non-paid chores are chores you do as part of contributing to our family. The paid chores are extra chores you can elect to do and get paid for. This system has worked well for our family. You can read more about how it works here.