Parenting With Psychology

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How to Get Your Child to Do Chores Without Complaint

ages 11 years - 18 years ages 5 years - 11 years chores consequences discipline routines May 23, 2024

Imagine a world where the mere mention of chores doesn't send your kids running in the opposite direction.  Sounds like a dream, right?  Well, in this post, I’m going to share with you three psychology-based strategies that will help that dream become a reality for your family.  If you’re a parent who likes the idea of less stress and improved family dynamics, you’re in the right place.


I. Effective Communication

First, it's essential to understand why children might resist chores.  Often, it's not just about laziness or defiance.  For many children, chores feel like an interruption to their more enjoyable activities, or they might not see the value in the tasks.  Begin by explaining the importance of chores in maintaining a clean and organized home where everyone can relax and enjoy their time together.  You might paint a picture for them of what it would look like if the trash didn’t get taken out or the dishes didn’t get washed.


Second, make it a team effort: emphasize that chores are a family responsibility, not just something only adults or only children have to do.  Talk about how as they get older, they are more and more able to contribute to the family by doing things like setting the table and doing their own laundry.  Two points to emphasize in this discussion are:

a) How showing responsibility in these tasks leads to increased responsibility as they grow—things like participating in family decisions, watching more mature movies, and spending time with friends without parental supervision. Not all of these things have to happen the day your child starts doing chores, but examples such as these will give them a taste of the independence they’ll want more and more of in years to come.

b) How their being old enough to participate more in chores distributes household responsibilities more fairly and frees up more of your time, which can then be spent doing enjoyable activities together. Use an example: if you help to tidy up the house before dinner, that means we have more time to snuggle and read together after dinner.


Third, children are keen observers and often learn by imitation.  If they see you approaching chores with a positive attitude and a sense of responsibility, they are more likely to mirror that behavior.  Show them that chores, while not always the most exciting part of the day, are a necessary and even rewarding part of family life.  Modeling this behavior for your child might look like, “Oh, it looks like the trash is getting full; I’ll take that out now so we’re teed up for scraping plates after dinner.”  


Also along the lines of modeling the behavior you would like to see from your child, participate in chores alongside your children when possible.  This not only demonstrates the behavior you want to see but also makes the task feel more like a communal activity rather than a solitary punishment.  This is especially important for younger children.


II. Positive Reinforcement

Now let's talk about the power of positive reinforcement.  It's a simple and time-tested concept: reward the behavior you want to see, and you'll see it more often.  Recognize and appreciate your child's efforts.  Simple praise or a thank you can go a long way in making them feel valued and more willing to help out in the future, as can non-verbal reinforcers like a high-five when they complete a chore.


While verbal and non-verbal praise can be very motivating to children, many parents choose to use what’s called a secondary reinforcer to really harness the power of positive reinforcement.  Here, a tangible reward or incentive is applied for every completed task.  Giving your child an allowance in exchange for completing a set of weekly chores is a common use of a secondary reinforcer (money) to acknowledge their hard work and contribution to the family.  When applied to chores, it shifts the focus from what kids dread to what they can gain, making the whole experience more appealing.


If you choose to go this route, you’ve got to check out this app that I recently learned about which artfully integrates this concept of positive reinforcement with children’s innate interest in digital media to create a method for tracking chore completion that’s easy for parents and fun for kids.  The TaskieHusky app is a game-changer for families struggling with chore completion.  With its easy-to-use digital reinforcement system, TaskieHusky turns mundane tasks into exciting challenges.  Kids earn points for completing chores, which they can then use for rewards, and the rewards are fully customizable to your child’s interests.  It's like having a digital buddy cheering them on, making every swept floor or tidied room a step towards a coveted prize.  Learn more and download the app at sets TaskieHusky apart is its ability to weave positive reinforcement seamlessly into daily life.  It's not just about the rewards; it's about the sense of accomplishment and the positive feedback loop it creates, building lifelong positive habits.  


We’re focused on chores in this post today, but you can also use TaskieHusky to provide positive reinforcement for activities like doing homework, exercising, and learning skills from financial management to mindfulness - the possibilities are endless, so check it today.


III. Structured Schedules

First, children thrive on consistent routines because they provide a sense of security and predictability.  Establishing a routine for chores can help integrate them into daily life as just another part of the day.  Over time, this can reduce resistance as children come to accept chores as a regular, expected activity.  So gather as a family and delegate chores among each family member, clearly noting how frequently each chore needs to be completed.  In my family, each child has a day of the week when they are responsible for emptying the dishwasher and taking out the trash.  That way, they have a consistent day for those chores, and if the dishwasher hasn’t been emptied on Tuesday, I know exactly who to call into the kitchen.


Second, an important step when developing a chore schedule for your child is to incorporate choice and control.  Children, much like adults, appreciate having a say in their lives.  Offering choices can make a significant difference in their willingness to participate in household chores.  Instead of assigning tasks, try presenting them with options.  For example, would they prefer to help with dinner preparation or set the table?  This approach not only gives them a sense of control but also makes the task feel less like an imposition.  In my family, on top of their day-of-the-week chores, the kids decided how to divvy up the various cat care responsibilities: dry food, wet food, water, and litter box, each choosing the one that was most desirable to them based on the desirability of the task and the frequency with which it needs to be done.


Third, visual aids are tremendously helpful in making schedules effective.  Now that you’ve decided what chores need to be done and how often, put it on paper.  Whether it’s a quick sketch or a colorful print-out, put it in a prime location like on the refrigerator to help each family member learn the new routine.


Take-Home Message

By adopting these strategies, you can help foster a more cooperative and positive environment around chores in your household.  Remember, the goal is not just to get chores done, but to build a family culture where everyone contributes, feels valued, and understands the importance of working together for the common good.


Change doesn't happen overnight.  It's important to be patient and consistent with your approach. There will be days when your child is less willing to participate, and that's okay.  The key is to not give up and to continue reinforcing the expectations and values around household chores.


Using positive reinforcement to promote chore completion falls under the Consequences category of my 5 C’s parenting framework (see Are You An Intentional Parent? to learn more about The 5 C’s).  To view more posts in this category, use the category search menu on the right of your screen.  Thanks for joining me to fill your parenting toolbox with psychology-based tools to feel more confident and capable in your parenting.  Keep up the good work on your amazing parenting journey!

P.S. Download the TaskieHusky app at to make daily tasks a little less about "must do" and a lot more about "want to."

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