1. Make the chore seem manageable to the child.
Sometimes a task like “clean your room” can seem enormous and possibly even overwhelming in a child’s eyes. Parents can help by breaking the chore into little pieces so the child knows exactly what is expected of them. For example, “Make your bed. Put your dirty clothes into the hamper. Then pick up your toys.” Fun fact: around age three a child is capable of following three unrelated directions.
2. Give the child a time frame for when the chore needs to be completed.
If left open to their choice, chores are probably not the first thing a child will pick to do during their free time. It’s normal for children to dawdle or procrastinate their responsibilities (let’s be honest, adults are pretty good at this as well). Depending on the age of your child, they may or may not yet understand how to tell time. Even if they don’t, you can use phrases such as “Let’s put all the books we just read back on the shelf before we eat lunch” or “ I need your dirty clothes to be in the hamper before bedtime.”
3. Set consistent and realistic expectations.
If you’ve asked your child to do something and it doesn’t get done, it’s okay to follow through with a reasonable and age-appropriate consequence. Children thrive on consistency. When there is no follow through, they learn to test the boundaries. It’s also important to make sure that what you’ve asked of them is feasible for their age. Here are some chore ideas for children of different ages:
4. Give sincere praise for their efforts.
It’s important to note that at this point children are still learning how to complete many of these chores. Now is the time to focus on encouraging their efforts rather than criticizing the quality of their work. Click here to learn more about giving healthy praise.
5. Make it fun!
Try turning the chore into a game. “Let’s count and see how fast you can pick up all the toys.” Allow your child to use their imagination. I used to pretend I was running a restaurant as I helped in the kitchen. You can also offer rewards for completing the chore such as special one-on-one time with you. For example, “When you’re finished we can play your favorite game together.”