Now, we're not in the business of bribery... but as parents (and sitters), we know that sometimes bribery and motivation walk a very fine line! We want to encourage our kids to work hard, and understand the value of contributing, as well as the importance of responsibility. And in a perfect world, they would pitch in, no questions asked. But at the end of the day, kids will be kids! We've all been there when a pack of gummies was your only hope for getting them to tie their shoes and get into the car in the next 2 minutes.
Sometimes things go a little smoother if you add an element of fun and reward. So we put together a few helpful tips and ideas for getting your kids motivated to do their chores, build lifelong good habits, and enjoy themselves along the way!
1. Chore Wheel or Chart
This is helpful, especially for visual learners. A wheel is a fun way to add some variety and keep things fair between the kids. That way no one gets stuck with the same task every week. It can also be a good motivator if parents are included on the wheel, to show that everyone in the house is doing their part.
A chart with stickers, or a dry-erase board with magnets is fun for kids, because they can check off when they're done with their chore - "done!" You know that amazing feeling of crossing something off of your to-do list? Well, kids love that on-to-the-next sense of satisfaction as well. Establish it early, and it will help them build good habits for later in life!
2. Stick to a Routine & Make Chores a Family Activity
Sticking to a routine (using the chore wheel) will help the whole family stay on top of their responsibilities. The trick is not to "let it slide," if the kids forget to do their part.
As a parent, how often have you heard the phrase, "but that's not fair!"? I'm sure more times than you can count. Kids don't like to feel like it's 'them against the world,' so consider making chores a family-time activity. Pick a night of the week where everyone is home, put on some fun music, divide up the chores, and spend 30 minutes just getting it done. The kids will feel better that you're all in it together, and are less likely to procrastinate.
If you can associate chore-time with something fun afterwards, they will ultimately connect productivity with reward in their mind. Maybe every Sunday evening after dinner the whole family does a big house cleanup, and then everyone gets in their pajamas to watch a movie together. Or if the kids want to go to the pool or the park, they each have to do two chores first. This rhythm establishes an understanding of "work first, play later."
3. Make it a Race
If you have more than one child, turning chore-time into a race works every time. Whoever cleans their room and passes the "parent inspection" first, gets to pick the movie for the night, gets an extra scoop of goldfish, or whatever treat makes sense in your house.
Over time, they will learn 2 things. First, they will learn to be efficient and speedy with their cleanup. Second, they will learn that if they make less of a mess in the first place, they have less to clean up during chore-time.
4. Find Some Fun in the Mundane
As parents, it never ceases to surprise us what our kids find entertaining. There is a magic, and a mystery behind so many things that we find dull and exhausting. Try to see the world through your child's eyes and pick out the parts of chores that might entice them.
Everybody loves bubbles. Doing dishes, scrubbing the bathroom, or washing a load of laundry... these can all be a gold mine for getting your kids involved. Pretend that the laundry detergent is a "secret potion," and let them pour it into the machine. Or make believe! Maybe when it's cleanup time, everyone turns into a superhero. You have to rescue all of the toys and bring them back to safety in the toy bin.
It isn't easy to be "on" all the time, being creative and cultivating a learning environment, especially after long days of work. But if you can add a little enjoyment into chores, not only will you and the kids have more fun, but they'll learn from a young age that they don't have to dread responsibility, and positive attitude is everything.
5. Set a Good Example
Kids learn by observation. If they see one parent doing all of the household work, while the other parent doesn't contribute, they'll deduce that sometimes it's okay not to pitch in. By the same token, if your room is a disaster, you can't expect your child to understand why their room has to be clean.
Don't just tell them they have to do something, "because." Communicate with your kids from a young age the importance of helping one another, pitching in, and staying organized. Talk about what you're doing, and why you're doing it. Instead of saying, "I'm doing laundry," consider saying, "I'm putting your clothes in the washing machine, and when they're done you'll have nice clean clothes to wear."
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