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Help a Mom: How to set up a chore system for kids

Posted December 27, 2011

This mom would like her kids to help out more around the house, but they will barely do the basics.

Here's her question:

"An issue we have at my house is trying to set up a chore system for the kids. It's a struggle to get them to do the basics, so I'd love to hear what has worked for other parents to motivate their kids to get chores done."

Have you had the same problem? Can you help this mom? Please share in the comments box below. (If you don't see the comments box below, you'll need to log in or sign up for a WRAL account. You can do that by going to the top of the page and clicking on either "log in" or "register").

Help a Mom features questions from readers every Wednesday. If you have a question that you'd like to ask Go Ask Mom readers, click here to email it to me.

9 Comments

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  • kidcouch Dec 29, 2011

    For our family the 'Chore Pad' app in the Apple store has made a world of difference :) easy to update on the fly and keeps track of everything. Prior to that, we did line drawings on our big whiteboard of the daily chores.

  • diveyrround Dec 28, 2011

    What age do you all recommend to start chores with a kid? Mine is 5yrs old. Too young or start now?

  • babbleon Dec 28, 2011

    (ps: My mom's system is just Killian's with details.)

  • babbleon Dec 28, 2011

    My mom said Friday evening was the time when we did housecleaning. We did it as a family. We had the same list of stuff every week that had to be done (empty trash, pick up rooms, sweep, shake rugs), we could pick which chores we wanted to do, we checked the chores off (immediate gratification), and we didn't watch Sat morning cartoons until the chores were done. iirc, it took an hour or so.

    During the week, the kids had dish nights (mom took one), and we had to keep the living room minimally picked up.

    The key for our family was that chores weren't 'special' work we did - they were just what happened every day / week. It helped that we could negotiate chores - I didn't mind cleaning the bathroom, but I didn't like to sweep. It gave us some control & made us feel more grown up.

    Additionally, we got a small allowance. If we wanted more $$, Mom had a list of extra chores we could do - shine shoes, wash cars, yard work.

  • JAT Dec 28, 2011

    Prayer works sometimes....

  • katie5 Dec 28, 2011

    Scriptureart.com has chore charts that are dry erase, and you can get chore/task stickers to match. They have been featured in Go Ask Mom. Check it out.

  • claygriffith01 Dec 28, 2011

    The easiest way is to start young. My two-year old daughter picks up her own toys, and is in charge of throwing away any trash that she can reach (as long as it is safe to handle of course). She even tries to help by wiping the coffee table down when we are dusting, but she hasn't mastered that task yet. We started her out by having a "clean up song" (clean up, clean up, everybody everywhere, clean up, clean up, everybody do their share") and making sure to give her lots of praise when she started cleaning up on her own. Good Luck.

  • sat123 Dec 28, 2011

    My mom used a chart posted in the kitchen. It was a combination behavior / chore system. When we were good, we got stars, and when we were bad, we got strikes. We also got stars for chores. At the end of the week, I think each strike we got reduced our allowance by a certain amount, and each star we got increased it by a certain amount. Having the chart publicly visible sparked a little competition, and if you'd gotten a couple strikes that week, you'd do more chores to get the stars.

    It did make us do chores, but more than that, it made us find ways to get our father to do our chores for us. So, I guess it was also team-building?

  • Killian Dec 27, 2011

    The biggest two components, in my opinion are modeling and expectation. You do not *ask* your kids to do certain chores. Those are expected of *everyone* who lives in the house. You're a family, and a family functions as a team. So things like dishes, cleaning our bedrooms, picking up our laundry, are not things that are asked to do. Those are things you do because you live here, and we as adults do them because we live here, too.

    A chart with *everyone's* name on it (including mom and dad!) helps people remember who has which responsibility on which day. But other chores can be optional for money, or rewards.