Getting Your Child Involved In Household Chores

Isn’t it the dream when your kids pick up after themselves? Recently, I have incorporated ‘toy pick up’ as a part of our bedtime routine because mama doesn’t have time for that after an already exhausting day.  Plus, I didn’t make that mess so why would I clean it up?! I think it is important to teach my children the responsibility of chores from an early age. Another benefit; if my daughter wants to dump an entire bin of toys on the ground… FINE BY ME! She knows she is the the one that has to clean it up afterwards :).

Research from Harvard suggest that kids who do chores are more likely to be successful adults. Makes since because these children are learning the meaning of responsibility early on. Research also suggests that if you choose to provide reinforcement for completing chores, those selected chores should be value added for the ENTIRE household, not just themselves. Okay, but how do we get to a point where our kids will actually maintain the completion of these? Ya gotta keep em’ motivated :).

Although the goal is for our children to reach a natural contingency of reinforcement, there are still “real-world” applications where we earn tangible reinforcers every single day. When you go to work, you earn a paycheck which is a tangible reinforcer. If you did not earn money at work, you would probably not show up every day. So, it is okay to still set up activities where your child is earning “things”. So, how does that translate into chores?

Sticker Chore Chart

One idea is to create a list of chores around the house for your child to earn a token, a sticker or even an allowance. I have created an example of a sticker chart below. One way of implementation: tell your child that if they complete the agreed upon criterion (walking the dog, watering the plants and cleaning up their toys), they earn a sticker. Once they fill up their sticker chart in its entirety, then the child earns a movie night! For this to be successful, the child MUST choose what they are working for…. We call this confirming the motivation.

Sample Child Kids Chore List

I have provided a list of suggested chores that could be helpful in getting your babe involved in completing household tasks!

kids child chores taking dog out

List of Chores for the ENTIRE Household

  • Putting dishes in the sink
  • Cleaning up toys at the end of the night
  • Take care of family pet
  • Watering plants
  • Sort clothes/put clothes in hamper
  • Put books back on the shelf
  • Help put dishes away/load dishwasher
  • Set the table
  • Pack lunch
  • Help cook meals

Although there are several chore lists out there based on age, you can modify any number of those lists to be age appropriate for your child! For example, my 21 month old could do any number of the above chores. Would I need to alter how they are done? Yes! But she could still be involved in the process and would love every minute of it!

Having an understanding of activities where you are okay with providing reinforcers versus not may also make you feel more comfortable providing a treat here or there :). I mean, I know I treat myself with a glass of wine every once and while after a job well done… Who else is with me?

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