Last Updated on February 19, 2021.
Chores. It’s a topic that generates lots of feelings. Children resist. Parents insist. And it almost always ends in a power struggle. But it is possible to implement an effective chore routine in your family. And it’s most effective when implemented at a young age. Here are the Dos and Don’ts of implementing toddler chore charts.
But First, Why Children Resist Chores
Have you ever noticed that very young children often want to help with grown up tasks? They might try to use the broom, or run the vacuum cleaner? This might make you think that toddler chore charts will be wildly successful.
But at some point, the novelty of “grown up chores” wears off, and they resist even basic tasks like throwing their dirty clothes in the hamper.
Kids don’t inherently know how to cohabitate with others. These are learned skills. And these grown up tasks are borning (even for adults). What’s more, it takes practice to do complete chores quickly and thoroughly. It’s a lot more fun to ignore the mess and continue engineering LEGO vehicles.
In short, kids don’t see the benefit of chores, and they have better things to do. And so they resist.
Benefits of Chores for Kids
There’s boatloads of research on the benefits of childhood chores, for both the parents and the kids.
Kids Learn Life Skills
They won’t always have mom to pick up after them, so learning these life skills early on will set them up for life-long success.
Kids Feel A Sense of Accomplishment and Pride
Unrewarded chores are a great opportunity for kids to develop intrinsic motivation. They’ll feel internal pride and accomplishment by doing their part and contributing to the household.
Kids Learn About Teamwork
Chores are one of the earliest opportunities for kids to experience what it’s like to be on a “team” and how a team can accomplish much more than any individual.
Kids Feel a Sense of Independence
When kids are able to complete tasks on their own they develop a great sense of independence, or self-reliance. It’s a great motivator and confidence-builder!
Chores Foster a Strong Work Ethic
When children grow up doing household tasks they don’t necessarily love, they develop a strong work ethic that will last a lifetime.
Children Who Do Chores Develop Respect
Participating in grown-up activities help children understand and respect the responsibilities of their parents. They’ll also appreciate their parents, their home, and their belongings more than children who do not participate in chores.
Chores Provide Opportunities for Bonding
Families who do chores together are bonded. When everyone is responsible for caring for the home and the belongings, you easily build a deeper connection and sense of respect for eachother.
Children Practice Time Management Skills
When children are assigned daily tasks they have an opportunity to practice and develop time management skills. When they have activities they want to do and activities they need to do, they will discover ways to be productive and efficient!
Sharing Chores Alleviates Parental Stress
Parents who share the chore load often report feeling less stressed. It’s a win/win for both children and parents!
Why You Should Avoid Chore Rewards
At first, rewards seem like a good idea. You’d think that positive reinforcement is a great way to motivate kids. But you’re actually doing the opposite. Offering rewards, or extrinsic motivation, you’re fostering a “what’s in it for me” mindset.
This is not the attitude you want your kids to have towards chores. They should be contributing to the maintenance of the household simply because they are a part of it. It’s a familial obligation, and one that does not require a monetary transaction. Keeping tidy is also a life-skill we want our kids to perform with an intrinsic (or internal) motive.
How to Get Started with Family Chores
So maybe you’ve been letting your kids skate by without lifting a finger. That’s ok. Now’s a good time to change the dynamic! Here are the steps you can take to get started.
1. Divy Up the Chores
Your first step is to determine which chores should be delegated to each family member. It’s important to assign age-appropriate tasks that each child can complete. You want your kids to experience a sense of accomplishment and pride, not frustration! You may want to start small, assigning just a couple of chores at first, then add chores as necessary.
2. Create a Method of Accountability
In our house there’s a twist on a famous saying… it’s “if it’s not written down, it’s not going to happen.” You really need a chore chart, an accountability calendar, or some other tool to track chores.
Kids love being able to check off their tasks, so I’d highly encourage you to use a tool that your kids can be involved in!
3. Call a Family Meeting
It’s time to introduce your new distribution of responsibilities. Begin by discussion the importance of everyone contributing to the house. If you choose, use a word other than chores (since it tends to have a negative connotation), like “tasks”, “assignments”, or “contributions”.
Get buy-in from your family members. Discuss the importance of staying organized and keeping a tidy home. Ask for their input on tasks they think would be a good fit for them.
4. Provide Training
This is the most important part of the process. You must set your kids up for success by providing thorough training, and sometimes written instructions, on how to complete their tasks. It’s unfair to assign a task without giving them the knowledge or tools to be successful! Virtually all tidying and organizing skills are learned, and it’s easy to take this for granted as an adult who has been practicing these skills for decades.
Take the time to provide detailed examples and check for understanding.
How to Make Toddler Chore Charts Effective
An effective chore chart should be simple and easily understood. Try not to add fancy embellishments or complicate it with too much information. You’ll find that simpler is definitely better.
I recommend creating a chore chart for each child so they can take sole responsibility for those chores.
Tips For Chore Chart Success
Change Your Vocabulary
If the word “Chore” prompts groans, change the terminology. Amy McCreedy from Positive Parenting Solutions suggests the term “family contributions”, and that’s a great way to look at chores. But you could use any other term, like “assignment”, or “task” as well.
Get Input from Your Children
You may find your kids naturally handle certain chores better than others. For example, one child may be great at pet related chores, while another child might excel at loading the dishwasher. Give your kids some input on the chores they are responsible for!
“What’s Your Plan For…”
Don’t nag and complain about their chores all day long. Instead, use positive parenting tools to provide a little motivation. One of my favorites is “What’s your plan for completing your chores today?”. It forces your children to actually think about the logistics of getting their contributions done.
Another effective positive parenting tool is the when/then, which is where you insist that the unpleasant tasks need to be done before any fun activities. For example, “When your chore chart is complete for the day, then you can have your Nintendo.”
Set A Good Example
Children are far more compliant when they see the adults completing their chores. It might even be helpful to print off separate chore charts for mom and dad, so they can see your check marks for the day!
Laminate Your Chore Charts for Reuse
Save time (and paper) by laminating your chore charts and using a dry erase marker so you can reuse them over and over again.
Chore Chart Ideas Free Resources
Get our free chore chart printable!
Here are other free chore chart resources you can check out:
- Great Chore Ideas for Toddlers
- Monthly Printable Chore Chart
- Editable Chore Charts for Kids
- Chore Cards
Final Thoughts on Chores
Chores are a great way to give your children a sense of significance and belonging. It’s a great way to give them power and an opportunity to develop life skills. Implementing age-appropriate chores will benefit everyone in the family! So try out a couple of toddler chore charts with your family and find one that works for you!