Getting Your Children To Do Their Chores


“Do all things without grumbling or questioning, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world,” – Philippians 2:14-15

I don’t have a dishwashing machine. I have three dishwashers.

coers 117

These three have been doing chores regularly since the age of five.

We’re firm believers in everyone pitching in and doing their part. Mom is not a slave, or a tireless martyr, or even the Chief Maid. Mom is the Cleaning Coach and the kiddos are team members. There is absolutely nothing wrong with assigning your child daily chores. No matter how busy they are with sports, school work, church activities and more, they are completely capable of doing their part around the house. It’s good for you and good for them.

I personally have not been responsible for the dishes for almost three years. Our children are on a nightly rotating schedule: two on, one off. A child washes one night, dries and puts away the next night, and the following night is their time off from dishes. This way everyone gets a day off. There are scheduling conflicts at times, but we encourage our children to arrange to switch, so someone can cover for them (just as if they were employed and needed a schedule change) and in return they’ll work a dish day for them.


Our children have other daily chores along with dish duty. We keep lists posted on the fridge. It is their responsibility to wake up, get dressed for the day, eat breakfast and then complete their chores. No begging, no bribing, no nagging. They know the drill.

They have become an efficient cleaning crew.

It wasn’t always this way. We eased into chore duty when they were each five years old. It began slowly: learning how to clean their room. I would write out a step-by-step list for their room, complete with pictures. For example, “Make Your Bed” would have a drawing of their bed for a nice visual reminder. We did not require perfection from them. But we did expect diligence. Lazily sweeping the toys into the closet did not cut the mustard.

Later as we progressed from their bedrooms to tasks around the house we discovered a very fun website: Chore Wars

A friend of mine directed me to the Chore Wars site. She absolutely hates doing even the simplest chores around her home and the game has helped her tackle everyday projects like doing dishes and taking out the trash. This great site allows children (or adults) to receive experience points (XP) for common chores.

I sat down with the kids, showed them their characters and the “adventures” and they jumped up and ran off to complete their chosen tasks. It was wonderful. I highly recommend this site for any family with children between the ages of 7-13, especially boys.

In the past when we had video game systems in our house, our children would do their chores to earn chips to cash in for game time. Each child could claim their four chips – each chip worth 15 minutes of game time – when they had checked off their chore list for the day. A simple kitchen timer kept track.

We’ve had success with chore charts and stickers. Our children have worked to earn special rewards and even money. Never as a bribe, but as a reward for a job well done. I do not pay my children to do housework – for example an allowance for doing their chores. But I will occasionally reward them if I notice compliant attitudes, hustle completing their jobs, taking extra care to do a good job. We tell our children (more than a few times) we are part of a family, and everyone needs to do their part.

Along with housework, our older children also help with the younger children.

She's thrilled to be a part of the process

She’s thrilled to be a part of the process

We do this as parents for a very specific reason: birth control.

Our older children are becoming teenagers. Shows like MTV’s Teen Mom pollute their culture and peer group with an idea that teenage parenting is no big deal. Have a kid, get a TV show. Pregnancy pacts are all the rage. Teen parents are considered cool and having a baby is seen as something fun.

We happily show our children every aspect of raising a baby. It’s no fun.

They change diapers, hold crying babies, help give babies and the toddler their snacks, give babies baths, help with naps and bedtime routines. And it has worked to drill the idea of “babies are fun” right out of their heads. All three of my older children have emphatically stated they do NOT want any children of their own for a very long time.

There are sweet moments spent with their younger siblings.

reading with babies

But they harbor no misconceptions about how much work is involved in raising a child.

This is our job as parents – to prepare our children to be on their own some day. By assigning regular chores, teaching our children to be responsible and work hard, we’re setting them up for success in their own homes as well as their future jobs.

Implementing a chore list for your children can be a great way to teach them simple housekeeping skills as well as instill a positive work ethic and an appreciation for a job well done.

Focus on the Family has a wonderful list of age-appropriate chores. Children as young as two or three can (and should) be taught to pick up their toys and help with little jobs around the house. Younger children need specific, concise instructions: “Please put all your toy cars in the basket,” instead of “Clean up your mess.”

By pitching-in around the house your child will learn important life skills, how to be part of a team, and gain a sense of accomplishment.

Check out this site for some great tips on how to get started:

Above all else, it is important for you to set a good example for your children. When kids see mom and dad happily working side-by-side to get a few things done around the house it encourages them to do their own work with a cheerful attitude. Turn on some music, set a timer, plan a game with your children when their jobs are done. Your attitude and approach will set the tone for the task at hand.

“And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” – Colossians 3:17

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