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Learning About Chores for Children

How can you make chores part of your child's routine?

Young kids often want to help. Your child likely won't finish tasks as quickly or as well as you would. But letting children help with chores teaches them that they have something to give, or contribute. Giving them an active role to play in the family can show them that their help has value.

These tips can help you make chores a positive part of your child's routine.

  • Let kids help from a young age.

    Young children can help by doing one piece of a chore while you do the rest. For example, if you're doing dishes, your toddler can dry one plastic item while you do the rest.

  • Choose chores that match your child's age.

    Younger children may be able to help set the table, feed pets, or put groceries away. As children get older they can help by taking out the trash or cleaning the bathroom.

  • Find chores you can do together.

    When you do a chore together, you can show your child how it's done. This is one way for kids to learn about participation and teamwork. Tidying up your home and putting groceries away are chores you might do together.

  • Explain what it looks like to do a chore correctly.

    Cleaning the washroom correctly might also include restocking toilet paper and putting away all the cleaning supplies. Raking leaves might mean raking the leaves, putting them in the yard waste bin, taking the bin to the curb, and putting the rake away.

  • Be patient.

    Expect that your child won't do the task as quickly or as well as you. If a chore isn't done correctly, calmly explain how to do it. Then let your child try again.

  • Offer positive reinforcement.

    Praise your child for a job well done, or thank them for doing their part. This positive comment may be enough to encourage them. You can also decide if you want to connect a child's chore to an allowance or another reward. Some parents find that this helps motivate their child. Different things work for different families. Do what works for yours.

  • Don't use chores as a punishment.

    Chores are just one way of being part of the family. Young kids love to help, but they may resist as they grow older. If your child resists, give them a choice between two different chores. Remind them that everyone in the family works together. You might say something like, "Sometimes I don't want to do chores either. But having someone to help makes it easier."

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