“How can I get my kids to help around the house?”

(post originally dated 11/19/14–migrated from Sarah’s old blog)

A homeschooling mom of four just wrote to me to ask how to get kids to do chores with a cheerful attitude. (I am a homeschooling mom of ten, ages 2 to 15, and one due in Feb.) I have had a lot of success in raising my kids to be happy helpers with a strong work ethic. So here is my advice.

The best way to get children to do chores with a happy and willing heart is to model for them the behavior you want to see. Sing and smile and dance and be cheerful when doing the housework, turn on the happy music, make it look fun. They will copy you. The most important thing is being a model of the smiles and work ethic you want them to have.

See your own work as a privilege and invite them to be part of doing things that you do. With my young ones I will say “I’m not sure if you are big enough to wash dishes.” And the reply will be “I’m big enough!” And they will set out to prove it, with pride. 

I also reward the kids for excellent work, even a smile from mom, or a handful of berries can be a reward. I want to teach them that quality work is rewarded. I don’t have extra money to pay them every time they do an extra job, so instead of buying them everything they need and want, I give them a chance to earn these things. Maybe you plan to buy new bikes for the kids in the future – don’t just buy them the bikes, let them help earn the money you are going to spend on the bikes so they will see the results of their labor. Maybe you are going to yard sales this weekend and expect to spend 3 or 4 dollars on toys, let them earn their garage sale money, even 25 cents can go pretty far at a yard sale! (click here to continue reading)

Sarah’s Mom Tips – How to Outsmart the Hurrier

Do you have a child who rushes through their schoolwork?  Here’s what I say to mine when they have a habit of rushing and being sloppy: “Take as much time as you need on your Journal today, but when you finish we will be cleaning out the garage.” 

Plan a less fun activity to follow the schoolwork, if the child rushes through it. 

If Minecraft, TV, or snack time comes after they finish schoolwork, they will rush. 

Work with human nature. 

If you have a child who is slow, you may need to do the opposite.

I’ve had great success in using rewards to motivate my kids to do excellent work in their journals. Anyone else?

If they are in a funk or a sloppy season I might tell them that they will get a prize at the end of the week if they do 30 perfect pages in their core journal. Or they might get a chance to get a $15 gift card for Amazon when they finish a Core Journal, if it’s beautiful. I’ve done that 2 or 3 times over the years.

For example we might have a movie night and that child picks the movie, maybe they get to pick out the ice cream flavor, get a new book of their choice, a special time with me, and I’ve even given cash rewards or extra game time.

I have found that these motivation tools can get a child into the habit of doing better work.

Some kids just need extra motivation, especially Followers and Explorers.