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Readers Respond: Getting Your Kid or Teen to Do Their Chores

Responses: 17

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Getting your kids and teens to do chores is often harder than it should be - at least that is what we think. Our older kids and teens would prefer not to be bothered at all with chores. Who wouldn't, right? But household tasks need to get done. This issue can cause arguments and bad moods around the home more often than parents would like. Here is some advice, opinions and experiences from real parents on how to get kids and teens to do chores.

Teaching Special Education is Easier!

I have five children. The oldest is 23 and just caught on. The rest are teens and preteens. The boys are the hardest to get to do an ounce more than absolutely necessary. I have to be very detailed in the expectations. Lately, I tell them that if it's not done well, they'll have to do it over. That helps some. I've considered tickets but don't have the money. I worry that my 13yo is so selfish. His attitude is heavy on "What's in it for me?" He needs to do community service and I'm looking into the local opportunities. They spend 1/2 their time with their dad--they have no 'chores' there. That makes it twice as hard to build up their habits, but I've been at it since they were so little that blocks were their favorite toys, and they put them in the right tubs according to type. I also had to train step-dad that doing it himself while easier, is not best for the child. They need to participate, be included, learn cleanliness, and master organization.
—Guest Theresa

Learning How to Deal with Son

I have had a lot of trouble with teenage son and think I finally found that by calmly talking and not debating not to mention too much. Patience it gets done while I'm also battling my own stuff instilled in me and that I work really hard to pay the rent and I want my house clean. He did like it, but now I insist. Before we go anywhere that it is done and don't go or don't allow him to bargain with me mention
—Guest dj

Talk to Them

Kids will be more willing and understand better the importance of structure and order in the home if it is explained to them. Many kids grow up in contempt of their parents for the strict ordering around they received, depending on how parents went about it. Tell your kids/teens why it is important to keep a clean/orderly house, make it clear to them, then explain that it is also a team effort. Parents shouldn't have to baby their kids forever, doing their chores for them just because they're parents and they're supposed to. Teens need to help and learn in doing so, but using the right tone and making them feel included can help them want to.
—Guest L

It's not so easy.

I have 2 teenage daughters. What I did as regards to housework from dishes to cleaning of their rooms: we had a discussion and draw up a work schedule with a name against each job and noted those we would be doing together. So far, it has been working as each member of the house knows what to do as each day passes by.
—Guest u.

Natural Consequences

When my children were younger, we used the initiative and rewards approach. We taught that everyone does their part and that when I say do, they do. Now that we have teenagers there isn’t much of a debate on chores. It has been a part of their daily lives for such a long time. However, like most teens there are days when they just don’t want to do their work. On these occasions I do let them suffer in their own consequences. For instance my son recently decided he was not going to be cleaning his room. I simply said make sure the door is shut at all times so the mess doesn’t trickle into my hallway. After one week he couldn’t find anything, had a smell he couldn’t sleep with, and misplaced his eyeglasses, since their normal spot was occupied with trash. So between the loss of money for glasses, air freshener, a failed test (couldn’t find book)and wearing dirty laundry to a party, he now understands the importance of cleaning his room.
—Guest Trisha

Share the Responsibilities

My daughter just recently became an official teenager but I have felt like the mother of one since she was four. She likes to debate also, but I tell her that debating with me is not an option. We set rules for chores and behavior when she was in third grade. It is all a give and take, just like several people already mentioned. I have told her that since we are a team living together, we need to share the responsibilities. If I have to do everything by myself, than not much else can happen because I am too tired, so when she needs to be taken to a school event, dance or other activity with friends, then I am much too tired to take her if I have spent all my time doing chores... I thank god for all of it everyday, good and bad, but I also look forward to the day when we will be friends in addition to mother/daughter. Good luck to us all, parenting is not easy!
—Guest Vivian

Life is all about give and take.

I have two teenage children;a boy and a girl. I use the system of life is all about give and take with them. First, I talk gently making them realise that we own the house and therefore, we MUST clean it together. Of course the boy likes to do things when it suits him, so I get hard on him and refuse to give him whatever he ask for until the chores are done. I think it’s a continuous process. Very few teenagers want to do chores, they all believe life is a bed of roses. It’s our responsibility as parents to insist they do what we ask them to do.
—Guest Abimbola

Leave a List

A due date for chores is the best way. If the chores aren’t done, they don’t go out, get the car keys, etc. No arguing. Leave a chore list on the fridge with who is responsible for what. Teens can help pick which chores they will have responsibility, but you have the final word. It can be easier said then done, especially when jobs come in to the picture as they get older.
—Guest Jill

Point Out What You Do

I have 3 teens and pull my hair out sometimes. Once I sat them all down and got them to write out all I did for them and then as we discussed those things, I asked what would happen or how would you feel if I didn’t do those things - that is food for thought. Drastic action has been called forth – in that I won’t drive them to work or sport etc.I have even given them a half cooked meal to show what a half done job is like. Mainly you never enter a debate – just smile and say you know they will do the right thing and help you out.
—Guest Kathy-Anne

Hold Your Ground

My 19-year-old daughter recently told me that all of things that I told her about picking up after herself while she was growing up for sinking in. This felt great given how frustrated I felt when she protested so heavily. My advice is to be consistent and hold your ground. It will pay off in the end.
—Guest DeVera

Be a Broken Record

The book, Saying No and Sticking To It, suggests you use the broken record method when they want to argue or fail to move when asked. You simply, and calmly repeat the same short request over again.
—Guest Martha

We All Take Care of Our Home

We explain to our kids that it’s only fair that we all take care of our home. We all enjoy the comforts of it and one person cannot do it alone. If mom is taking one to sports and then music and to friends or events I need help too. I’m asking you guys for it I say to them. We all clean up together: dishes, putting clothes away, Saturday chores. That way we all feel a sense of unity and appreciation. Plus, not only does it get done much faster they feel a sense of contribution and accomplishment.
—Guest Brenda

Complaints? Add another chore.

Our statement [to our kids] is that family is a team and everyone on the team pitches in. We pitch in because when the house isn’t clean and things aren’t put away, it takes twice as long to find things and adds uneeded time to our already haggered schedules. We have a rule that if there’s any complaining with chores, they get another chore added on. One day I got the entire house cleaned. ;-) The kids are pretty good now about doing chores and do a decent job, but it was a few years before that occurred. It’s certainly a long process.
—Guest Lynn

One Reminder with a Time Limit

Teens and chores – we used to have quite a bit of trouble, but here is a few ways we handled it and it seems to be working. First we have a schedule for school nights that is posted on the fridge – so there are no questions as to what need to be done. Then when a chore needs to be done instead of asking to do the chore we ask ” the dishwasher needs to be unloaded – would you like to do it at 6 or 7″ or we say a chore needs to be done and set a time it needs to be done by. Also we have told our son that his weekend depends on what he does during the week, if he hasn’t cooperated then his weekend is filled with work – so far its working.
—Guest Kimmer

Earning Tickets

I just started something new with my youngest teenager, I started giving her tickets, each one worth a dollar, and I told her every time I noticed that she was doing her chores and cleaning her room with out being asked I would slip a ticket in a jar, and once she reached 5 or more she could cash then in at the end of the week or just save them and so far it has been a great incentive for her to get her chores and homework done, and with so many things that these kids want to buy these days, they will do what ever they can to earn it.
—Guest Lisa Brereton

No Debating

I have a hard time with the concept of 'debating' with child/teen/young adult over something as simple as chores. I do not feel I have to rationalize to my child why they should do what I tell them to do. To do or not to do is not an option; “just do it”. No loving parent would charge their child to do something that would harm them. We give our children daily or weekly tasks to instill a in them a sense of responsibility and order. They will appreciate it when they get older and have a chance to reflect upon it.
—Guest Jerald

It's not easy!

It's not easy getting them clean up, what I do is make them anyway, then if they discuss it I say because living in a clean environment is a good way of living. Finally I always add that if they do not do then someone else has to do it, and that s not fair on anyone because everyone has his or her work already without adding to it. Is their school or sports club or wherever they go a messed up environment or is it just mom at home that is requiring it? It is a common practice and that shows it is a good one.
—Guest Ruth

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