I wrote a post a while ago about children's chores and what they teach them about responsibility but actually getting your children to do those chores can be a challenge.
My boys, LP and BP, both do chores every day and we've settled on what works for us. There are lots of ways to encourage your children to do chores and you need to use what works for you, that can depend on the age of your children, your lifestyle, and your parenting style.
Below I'm listing things I've used in the past and the method I use now with the reasons they did or didn't work for us.
First things first, the best way of getting results is to have a list of chores that your children can see. If they can see the jobs they need to do they can choose which ones to do first, this gives them a little control and makes them think they have a say. You can use a written list for older children but for younger children that can't yet read perhaps try pictures.
This is a classic and one of the first things I tried. Reward charts come in all shapes and sizes and a quick search on Amazon brings up 4,090 results. You can choose the one you think your children will like the most and buy stickers of your children's favourite characters.
The reward needs to be clear;when they finish the chore they get a sticker, and perhaps when they have a week's worth of stickers they get a bonus reward.
The reward chart worked okay for us when the children were young, they loved receiving the stickers and I let them choose a small reward at the end of the week which was usually a toy car of some sort. As they got older though the reward wasn't enough and they soon lost interest.
Whether it's sweets or small toys these can sometimes work. Each time your child does a chore they get to choose something from the treat box. Again this usually works well with younger children as they get excited to pick a new toy and small toys for them don't cost much at all. With older children the small toys aren't exciting or entertaining enough, however I would say if you're using treats with older children you could always try things like bouncy balls.
As your children get older it becomes more difficult to make doing chores sound like a fun, or rewarding thing to do. Chores are chores and by the time the children reach the age of 7 or so they realise that chores are boring. If you're using the treat or reward chart system they begin to expect more for the work they put in and it can become unsustainable.
After trying the reward system and it breaking down I switched tactics...
"If you do your chores then..." from things like "we'll go to McDonalds for dinner" to "you can have some sweets" bribery has varying results. Sometimes it works like a charm and I've used it in the past, it can be a quick and easy way to get them to do chores but sometimes it falls on deaf ears. My boys often don't care about having sweets as a reward for doing chores, like I said my two older now and sweets aren't a good enough reward.
LP and BP are 7 and 12 years old and this is the strategy I'm using now. They both have iPads and like to use them daily, but their use is contingent on them doing their chores. They both have a list of their own chores, split according to their age, and once all the chores are finished they can play on the iPads. It doesn't just have to be tablets or games, you can use anything they enjoy doing. It could be a sports club, going out with friends, or withholding tech or game time but you have to stick to it - embrace being EVIL mum.
Your children will whine and complain when using this strategy but as long as you stick to your guns they will understand the routine and get on with their chores as soon as possible.
Not every strategy will work and some days your children will down-right refuse to do their chores. On these days I close my eyes, breathe, and pray for bed time as I look forward to a much needed glass of bourbon or hot chocolate.
How do you encourage your children to do chores?