How to get your kids to do chores and why it is important

Kids hate chores. Of course they do. I don’t prefer doing them much either! I’d rather relax and do fun activities with my friends. Luckily, because of my life experience I’m able to see the long and short term benefits of chores that young people usually haven’t learned yet. This helps me do them because it increases my motivation. Herein lies the answer to how to get your kids to do chores.

I did my TEDxWilmington talk all about how chores help kids calm anxiety. But they have so many other benefits. My talk was only ten minutes, and I have so much more to say. Watch my TEDx talk here.

Share my Tedx Talk here:

How to get your kids to do chores. #TedxTalkClick To Tweet

How to get yours kids to do chores.

Understanding the reasons yourself will fortify your resolve to assign chores (and withstand their complains to be consistent with them!) I am going to tell you why it is important to get your kids to do chores, so you have more than, “Because I said so!” to your enforcement repertoire.

When you explain to kids why they are doing chores, they still will crumble and groan, but it won’t AS BAD. Kids complain, as I EXPLAIN IN THIS POST< because their brains (yours, too) are evolutionarily designed to conserve calories to support survival when there is little food. Brains have two goals: 1. To survive and thrive and 2. To conserve calories.

Kids feel resistance to tedious and difficult tasks, that’s biological, unless they see a clear benefit to survive or thrive. So they need to see the benefit or be so used to it, by doing it so often that it is easy and the resistance barely comes up.

Motivate Your Kids to Do Chores

By showing them these short and long term benefits.

Helps them trust themselves

They build confidence when they do something and see that could do it. It’s the only way to build confidence. You don’t get confidence and then do something. It only can come after, because you see it is possible with your own eyes. Past accomplishments can also give you confidence. But if it is too far in the past, it is too easy for self-doubt to tell you, Now you couldn’t do it. So you have to continue to challenge yourself to continue feeling confident.

Makes them smarter

Reported by a 75 year Harvard Grant Study. “Kids who do chores are smarter.” Chores give kids a pitch-in mindset improving work ethic and increasing success, it says. Kids practice solving problems, developing their prefrontal cortex and expanding their minds.

Improves work ethic

Doing chores frequently helps you get familiar with the rewards that comes with doing the chores (all of these that I list here). With that experience of reaping the benefits, a person can’t help but have a stronger work ethic. A strong work ethic helps one feel less like a victim and more like an agent in life. Decreasing anxiety.

Pitch in mindset

This gives kids a sense of belonging and being needed in the community. Our souls, our bodies and our minds crave belonging.

Earn money, freedom and/or respect

kids to do chores
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Many people asked me after hearing my Tedx talk: Should I pay my kids for chores? I say, that depends. Getting paid for chores teaches a valuable lesson and work ethic, cause and effect. It empowers them that they can do something to get what they want. However, some chores are just part of being in the family and running a household, like keeping their room straightened and cleaning up after themselves, and schoolwork. But for yard work, painting, and other bigger tasks, getting paid can be extrinsic (external) motivation to do the job. Employing and appreciating extrinsic motivation is not a bad thing. It is everywhere our whole lives.

It is important to keep in mind that the more responsible a person is the more freedom that they have in the world. At the extreme, if you are not responsible (i.e., you break laws) you get imprisoned. For kids, the more responsibility they show, the more more freedom, things, money and privileges your parents give you. Kids get good grades, parents want to do something nice for them. Kids keep curfew, parents let them go out again. Responsibility earns respect.

Clear mind

In a study in California, they found that people with cluttered homes have increased stress, depression and anxiety. See my Clear your clutter post. Cleaning makes a house absent of mildew, smell, and vermin. This is clearly a benefit.

Builds skills

Kids learn that they can count on themselves, when they see themselves accomplishing things.  When you feel skilled, life is less daunting and scary. You feel empowered and ready for challenges. They charge you up, rather than freak you out.

Teaches how to ask for help

When faced with challenging chores, kids find they need to find information, help and resources. It is excellent to practice this, because in the future they will be faced with needed this all the time. Many of us adults give up on opportunities and success because we are too nervous to ask for help!

Practice reading/navigating the world

It is our job to help our kids read and navigate the world. If we try to make all of their choices or protect them too much, we take away their ability to learn how to do this on their own in the future. Lots of times kids want to protest rules, as if they are “oppression.” I tell families to practice reading rules wherever you see them. Like on the wall at a public pool. Have them guess why each rule is there. “No running on deck” is because kids often slip on the wet concrete. If they understand the process the leaders have to set rules, they won’t feel so random, and easier to follow. This will help them see the benefit to them and the greater good (i.e., safety) anytime they approach a limit set by an authority of institution. This helps people not feel like a victim.

Teaches time management

I talk to kids about high school, and how they don’t see the point in learning what year the Louisiana Territory was made a state. When am I ever going to need that? I tell them that the point of high school is to practice doing things that you don’t want to do. Practice figuring out how to push past resistance of what you might find as nonsense tasks, towards a bigger future goal. How to find answers to your questions, how to ask for help and get along with difficult people. THIS is what you get out of high school, not dates and equations.

Questioning Authority

Not all authority is created equal. Some people in authority abuse this power.  This is why it is important to have our children not blindly follow all authority figures. And we parents have noticed, this has more than sufficiently caught on. Young people don’t blanketly respect all authority anymore. (In fact, the pendulum may has swung a bit too far.)

They’re starting to question authority anytime they feel the resistance, as if the task is oppressive. Resistance makes you feel like a victim. They need to see the benefit for them in surviving and thriving. So they feel extrinsically and intrinsically (internally) motivated. Send them this list.

Even if kids to understand and desire the benefits that chores bring, they still will complain. Expect this, or you will be very frustrated and disappointed. Have kids do chores anyway! Stay strong and calm. You can do this!

More on my Tedx Talk:

Dealing with Difficulty 

Suck it Up: Calm Anxious Kids Tedx Talk Background

Cause and Effect: Written version on my talk at TEDxWilmington

More on Chores:

How to get kids to do chores. The Maya Method (Start young)

Chores Teach Kids Life Lessons NY Times

Happy Children Do Chores NY Times

How to get your kids to do chores. #TedxTalkClick To Tweet

What is your biggest struggle when trying to get your kids to do chores?

7 thoughts on “How to get your kids to do chores and why it is important”

  1. Hello, Jodi … I found this article and felt the need to respond to your advice. I am an older woman who has brought several children up and, because it was in the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s, I had no trouble with what I call ‘nay-sayers’. I suspect that, as we approach 2019, you are likely to attract some opposition from those who have taken a swing in the opposite direction towards what I call ‘The spoil-the-child brigade’.
    My kids were taught how to wash, iron, lay and light a coal fire, wash up, check and clean a fridge etc etc etc … Even our eldest son could do all those things as he left home to join the British Army. None of them has ever mentioned their home life as having been drudgery: just that it taught them the value of money because pocket money was earned as a wage.They also say that they understood the need for help in a large family where both parents worked.
    I am so relieved that there were no internet, chatboxes and selfies, etc. in my day, because there seems to be a growing habit of attacking from the shadows. People feel safe, I believe, while they are just scattering their opinions around from a distance.
    Congratulations and good luck.

  2. Hi Jodi

    What an excellent way to look at how chores benefit kids. Growing up, chores were a given in our house. It blows my mind when I hear parents don’t get their children to help out around the house.

    Why wouldn’t you? Kids who’ve never had to do chores will struggle when they leave home and have to fend for themselves. They’ll probably make for less than stellar or partners, too. Since they won’t realise that they need to pull their weight.

    Anyway, I just wanted to say I enjoyed your talk.
    Ang 🙂

  3. My kids always help me with housework. By doing chores, they can learn vital life skills that help them live independently in adult life. Without learning how to do chores (by getting involved at a young age), they will always rely on others to help them, or live in a dirty and messy home. Thanks for sharing!
    Jamie recently posted..6 Best Knee Pads for Housework 2020My Profile

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