Encouraging children to do household tasks is a parental choice that some feel works well for their families. Household chores for kids are a great way to teach children of all ages about responsibility and teamwork. While they can learn valuable life skills, if you choose to pay them as a reward for their efforts, it can also form the beginning of their financial education. Setting kids up with a GoHenry kids' debit card is a great way to show them how they can benefit from doing tasks and help them develop good money management skills that will be valuable in the future.
If household chores are new to your children and they’re finding it hard to get into a routine, or they've lost momentum altogether, check out these top tips to help keep your children motivated to complete their tasks.
What discourages kids from doing chores in the first place?
While many parents struggle with kids not doing chores, it’s important to understand what causes them to be discouraged in the first place. Consider the following:
- Time. Do kids have enough time to complete their chores and do a good job? Children may need more time to complete chores, especially when first learning new tasks.
- Expectations. Sometimes kids aren’t clear on the expectations when it comes to what is considered a job well done and may need you to walk them through a task more than once. Older siblings may struggle to understand why they have higher expectations or more chores than younger siblings.
- Inconsistency. If children get away with skipping chores once, they’ll often try again. Staying consistent with chore time can set clear expectations if your kid tries to get out of taking care of their tasks.
Common consequences for kids not doing chores
Chores are great for teaching children of all ages about responsibility and helping them learn valuable life skills for the future. But what can you do if they don’t do their chores?
There are ways you can motivate your kids and teens to do their chores without having to remind them constantly, from making them fun to giving your kids rewards for completing their chores. But if you’ve already tried to motivate them with no success, the time may have come to decide on age appropriate consequences to gently encourage them to do their chores in the future. These could include:
- Less screen-time
- More chores
- Delayed pocket money
- Lower pocket money
- Fewer rewards
- Earlier bedtime
The first impulse for many parents is to immediately punish their child for not cooperating and doing what they’ve been asked. But it can be easy to over-punish, which can escalate the situation. Rather than punishments, we’d suggest focusing on the following tips to encourage your child to do their chores in the future.
How to motivate your kids to do chores
Start with simple tasks for kids
Simple tasks are the best place to start, especially for young children. If you’re struggling with getting your kids to do chores or introducing new tasks to children, keep it as simple as possible. Start with basics like putting clothes away and cleaning up their room or after a meal. Keep expectations realistic and age-appropriate. You can always build on simple tasks as kids are ready to take on more responsibility and gain confidence.
Remove distractions temporarily
Distractions are a common reason for kids not doing chores. You may have to help your child get on track with what you’ve asked them to do by removing the distraction until they've completed their chores. After their chores are done, chat with your child about what might be getting in the way of them doing their chores and what you could do to help. Explain that the sooner their chores are done, the sooner they can get back to whatever they were doing.
Understand your child's thinking
It can be useful to chat with your children about their chores. Find out why they aren't doing them and what might help them to be more motivated. Explain to your children why it's important that they complete their chores when expected and use encouragement to get them to do their chores in the future.
Pick chores that are age-appropriate
Set your child’s chores based on their level of development. Even young children can start chores before beginning school, but keep tasks matched to your child’s age level. As kids age, include longer and more complicated chores or build on the skills they’ve already learned. For example, young kids can match socks and put clothes in baskets, while older kids can take on more responsibility for their laundry in stages.
Be pragmatic, not confrontational
Taking a non-confrontational approach to young people not doing chores is usually a more effective way of getting them to understand your point of view. It can also be a good way of modelling essential life skills such as thoughtfulness and patience.
When approaching the topic of chores, it may be helpful to remember that most of the chores have probably been taken care of by adults until now. In the past, when chores have been ignored, there probably haven't been any consequences as an adult probably takes care of them.
Good communication is a key part of the process. Be frank with youngsters about the consequences of them not doing their chores. Talk with them about what can happen due to their actions. For example, if a child doesn’t do their assigned chores, someone else will have to do it instead.
Use rewards to your advantage
Offering a positive outcome to motivate kids can be beneficial as children of all ages can respond well to rewards for doing chores.
In 2021, GoHenry kids earned a combined £ 2.9 million from completing tasks set through the GoHenry app. A pocket money app like GoHenry is also a practical way to help kids stay on track with their tasks without adults needing to remind them. You can set up one-off or weekly tasks for your child, and then they can tick them off in the app when the task is complete. The money is then released to their GoHenry prepaid debit card, which they can use in shops, make purchases online, or withdraw cash from ATMs.
Get feedback from your kids about what chores they enjoy
Discuss chores with your kids and get them involved in the decision-making for different tasks. Ask questions about what your child would like to do or what tasks interest them. Although not all chores will be exciting, getting your kid’s input is a great way to get them involved and more engaged in chores around the house.
Use positive motivation
Rewarding positive behaviour is usually more effective and a greater motivator for kids than punishment or putting pressure on them. A study by University College London (UCL) found that young people are more responsive to rewards than punishments of equivalent value. In the study, volunteers aged 12 to 17 were asked to complete tasks where they had to pick between symbols. Each symbol was linked with a chance of reward, punishment or no outcome. During the study, the volunteers began to learn which of the symbols were likely to result in each outcome and adjusted their choices to accommodate this. The young people were good at learning to choose the symbols linked with a reward but weren’t so successful at avoiding the symbols that were linked with punishment.
Rewards can range from warm verbal praise to treats and pocket money. Rewards can help young people understand the satisfaction and benefits of a good job well done. But if your child isn’t interested or motivated to do chores, rewards may not persuade them. If this sounds like your child, it may be helpful to inspire them to complete the task by helping them understand why it needs doing and how it will benefit them or others in the household. If the reasons line up with their own values, they'll likely feel more motivated to do their tasks.
You could try inspiring your child to operate more independently and take charge of fulfilling their responsibilities by showing them how completing a task can be enjoyable and rewarding.
Make chores more fun
Making chores fun is a great way to encourage your children to do them. Put on some loud music and get your child to dance around while they mop the floor. You could also turn it into a fun competition between siblings. Who can achieve the tidiest sock drawer or pick up the most Lego bricks in 30 seconds? Anything you can do to engage your children's interest in their tasks will encourage them to get to work.
Don't use chores as a punishment
If your child does something wrong, don't use chores as a consequence or punishment. You want your kids to approach chores positively and understand that chores are an expected responsibility. Assigning chores as punishment may result in your children developing negative associations with these types of tasks. They may see them as a form of punishment, even when they aren't, making it harder to get your kids to do their chores in the future.
Pick the right time for kids' chores
As you set chores for your household, consider the timing of different tasks. Find a schedule that works best for your family, and build a routine around timing that makes chores easy. Avoid busy times like right before bed or when kids first get home from school.
Set a chore deadline
Setting deadlines for chores sets your expectations for when a task needs to be done, but it also gives your children a bit of responsibility to choose when they do it within that timeframe. Setting time limits is another useful way to get children to do their chores. It can also make it fun as they try to beat the timer.
Introduce a chore chart
Chore charts are useful visual reminders of the tasks your children need to complete. You can make it as simple or detailed as you want. Just make sure it's clear and your kids understand what you would like them to do and when. Ask them to help you put it together so that they can feel a sense of ownership. If they need some extra encouragement, perhaps add a little incentive for each of the bigger tasks they complete.
Rewards for early completion of chores
Everyone likes praise and acknowledgement for a good job well done, especially if they've gone above and beyond what's asked of them. Pay attention to how your kids complete their jobs rather than simply checking they’ve done them. Make an effort to notice if they finish a job sooner than asked or do something extra on top. Say or do something that shows them that you are paying attention and that you have seen and value the effort they've made.
Reward your kids with pocket money for chores through GoHenry
Giving your kids pocket money as a reward for doing their tasks is a great way to keep them motivated. But rather than just handing over cash now and again, a pocket money app like GoHenry helps your kids learn to earn, save and spend their money wisely. To apply for a GoHenry prepaid debit card for your kids just download the app or visit the website and click on the ‘Join for free’ button. You don't need to give your payment details — just complete the form, and within a few days, your kids will receive their very own GoHenry prepaid debit card.