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Four Ways to Motivate Your Children to Pitch In and Clean Up

By Jessa McClure

With busy schedules, homework, and a host of other responsibilities and obligations, it might seem impossible to trust your child to do a quick and efficient job when it comes to chores. But research shows that children who contribute to the household are actually happier, according to PychologyToday.com.

If you're finding it difficult to find the time and patience to create a chore system that works for your family, here are some suggestions that might work.

1. Consider the age and ability level of your children
Giving young children small, manageable tasks to complete is a great way to give them some independence and create a more organized environment for them to play and learn. But, as your child grows, they should be expected to take on more responsibility. Kids under three should be able to pick up toys, books and dirty clothes and even dust. Children ages 11 and older should be able to load or unload a dishwasher, clean a toilet or supervise younger siblings.

2. Let them know what's expected
Shouting, "clean your room" from 20 feet away is not going to motivate a four-year-old to clean her room. Trust me. Small children, especially those who are easily distracted or find big messes overwhelming, need help breaking down larger tasks into smaller chunks. Try giving your child specific tasks like "pick up all of the Barbies" and then have them come back to you when they are finished for another assignment.

Children respond well to visuals, so creating a visible chore chart with either pictures or words can help show the child what is expected of them. If they see a picture of a toothbrush, a bed, and a teddy bear, then they are more likely to remember that they have to brush their teeth, make their bed and pick up their toys every day. Here are some more ideas for creating a chore chart for your children.

3. Offer an incentive
Kids are often going to want to take the easy way out, procrastinate or stall until you eventually help them or clean up the mess yourself. But, fight that urge. It might get the Hot Wheels picked up quicker, but it won't teach your messy little boy anything about responsibility. Instead, offer an incentive to sweeten the deal and give him the motivation he needs to finish the job.

One mom sets a timer and if her son finishes picking up his toys before the timer goes off, then he gets to have special time with his parents playing a board game, playing games on a tablet, or reading books.

If your children are older, then doing a puzzle with mom or dad might not be as appealing as it is to a preschooler. Try creating a monetary incentive by clipping money to the chore they must complete and posting it on a communal board. This will give them the instant gratification they crave, and you get a vacuumed rug and a clean-ish bathroom.

4. Don't expect perfection
If your children have taken the bait, I mean, are helping out more, then enjoy the moment. Don't follow behind them with a white glove and a disapproving look showing them where they missed a spot. If they are making an effort—a true effort—then you are doing something right. Back To Top

Categories:  Parenting Tips

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