Taking The Fight Out Of Doing Chores

taking-the-fight-out-of-doing-chores-terry carson naturally savvy


Kids should not have to do chores. Let them enjoy their youth. They will learn soon enough and there will be plenty for them to do.

Alfred Adler, the renowned psychiatrist, said that when a child becomes a contributing member of the family, he sees himself in a positive place which, in turn motivates him to feel strong as he moves into adulthood. When a child can take pride in the “ownership” of the home, self-esteem is built.


Kids should be taught to think for themselves and develop a good self image. Chores are one way to do that.

True. Many parents tell me that they want their children to think for themselves and develop self-esteem, yet sometimes they do not give them the opportunity to see themselves as capable, functioning people. Giving children chores helps to teach them that they can contribute to the family’s welfare in meaningful ways. In a very real sense, chores teach the child to contribute, cooperate, and feel capable.


Kids today are spoiled. They do not do chores like our generation did.

False. Saying that kids today do not contribute is a myth. Today’s parents have many pressures that affect family life. Whether it is several generations living under the same roof, two working parents, or single parenthood, there seems to be limited time available for such basics as housekeeping, laundry, grocery shopping, etc. Add the stresses of after school activities and car pooling, parents are frazzled. In many households, doing chores are standard practice and a necessity for keeping things clean and orderly. While children may not be pulling weeds or patching the back door screen, most families today give their kids jobs to do around the house, even if they do it begrudgingly.

For those parents experiencing resistance, here are some tips for getting your kids on side when it comes to their chores:

  1. Send a clear message. Make it a rule that the children will be contributing to the family’s welfare, which includes doing chores. Set up lists of responsibilities for all and then allow the kids to choose at least two that they want to tackle. The rest can be assigned.

  2. Jobs should be age appropriate. It can be very frustrating if a child is asked to take on a task that he is too young to handle. Three and four year olds can help match socks, set the kitchen table, and pick their clothes up off the floor. Five and six year olds can feed the pet, load the dishwasher, or wash dishes. Seven and eight year olds can sweep floors, wash mirrors or dishes, and walk the dog. The key here is to notice your child’s skill level and assign jobs accordingly.

  3. Teach and train. Do not assume that your child knows how to do a job. It is your responsibility to teach her how it is to be done. Demonstrate two or three times, and then let her have a go at it while you supervise. Allow for 5-6 training sessions before allowing her to go solo.

  4. Never de-motivate. Kids do not always do chores as well as adults would have them be done. Given that they are on a learning curve, avoid re-doing the job for your youngster. It sends a very discouraging message and squashes their motivation. Instead, focus on the effort and let them know you appreciate their help.

  5. Control the nagging. Kids who get nagged and reminded too often about chores will become less and less cooperative over time. Instead, set up schedules with them. Make sure they are in agreement as to when they will complete their tasks. Then, firmly but kindly, hold them accountable when they forget. Consider doing house cleaning chores together so it does not feel so overwhelming for them. No one loves doing chores, but misery does like company.

If you are fortunate enough to have help when it comes to household tasks, such as cleaning or gardening services, consider reducing their frequency and have the kids take up the slack, with your supervision. There is real value and merit in teaching kids to be contributing members of the family. When my son went off to university, I was pleased of how proud he was of his household abilities. He could cook, clean and do his own laundry.

By Terry Carson| January 02, 2009
Categories:  Nest

About the Author

Terry Carson

Terry Carson

Terry Carson is an educator and mother of four. A popular resource as a parenting coach expert throughout North America, she’s been featured repeatedly in the media including The Globe and Mail, Today’s Parent, Planet Parent, Save Us From Our House, Breakfast Televison, Yummy Mummy and countless radio shows and publications.

Terry helps her parent clients get back their control without spanking or shouting. Her most popular workshop, You’re Not The Boss of Me!, provides seventeen strategies to get rid of whining, not listening, complaining, temper tantrums, and other power struggles. For more information on Terry and her workshops, visit: TheParentingCoach.ca

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