Children and chores

Tuesday, August 14, 2012


My 9 yr old and 10 year old were having a discussion at bathtime last night.
I did not know what it was about and then my 9 year old came into the kitchen and asked “Mum, is there another chore that we can do daily that can make us more money?”
I replied “you unpack the dishwasher already”
He said ‘yes, but it’s only 50c and I want a job that can make more money”. 
We offered him the chore of packing the dishwasher and wiping the benchtop.  Immediately, I could tell by the look on his face the cleaning of the kitchen was not going to be appealing.  Also, I considered whether (even with training) he would ever get the job done to the satisfaction of his dad, who does the chore at the moment. So we may offer him a job or two in the bathroom. 

How to choose chores and how to manage chores:

I don’t want to give my child a chore that I have to nag him about.  It is counterproductive, for us, if I have to ask 30 times for the chore to be done and then out of frustration or fatigue takeover and do the task for him.  The positive will be lost and there will probably be another fight to be had at the end of the week/month when he expects money for it and I have to say the job wasn’t done so no pay.

Some tips on giving chores:

The task needs to be age appropriate:  Children need to be able to complete the task in a relatively short time, 15 minutes at the most.  They need to be able to use the tools required for the task, asking a young child to use chemicals is probably not wise and if you’re going to worry about them breaking something precious don’t get them to unpack your dishwasher or dust your ornaments or vases. 

Can they do the task without you watching them:  Once they have been taught how to do the task you want them to do or they have got into the habit of doing the task, can it be done on their own and at a time that suits them?  Is there a time you need it done by?  

Can it be done as part of an already set up routine?  Ie. Tidy the bathroom after bathtime.

Is the chore enjoyable or more importantly rewarding:  Can children see what impact their chore will have? eg.  If the playroom is clean, it is a safe space.  If they help you with a task explain that it will give you some extra time to be able to spend with them. 

Set by example:  Do the children see you doing tasks? It can be tempting to do everything while they are at preschool but once in a while save a job that you can do together.

Do you feel like you are constantly nagging for a task to be done?  Perhaps the chore is too difficult for the child, perhaps the task is not appropriate for the child’s development.  Perhaps they don’t understand the importance of the job and perhaps it is not enjoyable.  

There is nothing worse than expecting a job to be done and nagging the kids to do it – take a step back and offer to help them to see if they will reengage with the task or offer them another chore in it’s place. 



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