How to Get Your Children to Help with Household Chores


My kids never help around the house. I do everything for everyone and I am tired of it. I never get any time for myself!

Mommy Zen™ says: The first step toward change is recognition of the problem. It sounds like you have stated it very clearly. It doesn’t help anyone in the long run if you are running ragged, unhappy, and angry. So you are right. It’s time to change that.

Why Are You Doing All the Chores Yourself?

First, I suggest that you think about why you feel you must do everything.

  • Is it because nobody does it right and you feel like you have to do it over again anyway?
  • Is it because you get tired of reminding or asking?
  • Is it because you feel needed?

It is important to identify why or things will not change.

Are Chores Never Done Correctly?

If you are doing all the household chores yourself because they are never done correctly, perhaps it would help to show your children how to do the chores the way you think is best; or perhaps you need to relax your standards a bit.

If it’s because you find yourself nagging, make a rule that encourages them to:

1. Not have to be reminded (chart), or
2. Do things the first time they are asked. (Be respectful of them and agree on a time that works for both of you.)

Make consequences clear if they do not perform their designated chores. Most of the problems we have with our kids, I dare say, are because we are too busy to follow through and enforce consequences.

Do You Need to Feel Needed?

If the reason you do all the household chores yourself is because it makes you feel needed, it’s important to find some outside activities that give you pleasure and that use your gifts and talents. Self nurturing is vital for maintaining your energy, self respect and sense of well being. It also sets an important precedent for your kids. It shows them that you respect yourself and will encourage them to also respect you.

Now is the Time to Give Your Children Responsibiities

If in fact, you have never expected your kids to assume certain responsibilities or have never taught them, now is the time. There are things everyone can do. Children need to be assigned clear responsibilities for a couple of reasons. Number one, it helps your kids to feel like a necessary part of the family unit, and number two, fulfilling responsibilities builds a sense of self esteem and accomplishment.

Age-Appropriate Chores

With little ones, you can give them a mop or toilet brush or scrub brush of their own so that they can work alongside of you. It becomes something fun to do with mommy. As they get older, they can be trusted with more chores under supervision, and then can be trusted alone.

Tasks and responsibilities must be age appropriate. Most kids can learn pretty early to separate different colors for the wash. Later they can learn to operate the washer and dryer. Maybe they could just be responsible for washing and putting away their own clothes, or they can learn to fold towels.

Tackling chores together a little at a time and doing things with you are a good way to start. See what tasks they enjoy; observe what they do well. Different children will gravitate toward different chores. Some will prefer doing the dishes or setting the table or vacuuming. Give them a choice, so they feel like they have input.

Model Gratitude

Model gratitude by thanking your children when they help with the workload. Tell them how their behavior affects you:

“Wow, that really takes a load off Mommy!”

“Thanks, that gives us time to go to the park!”

“When your room is neat, I am more inclined to let you have your friends over to play.”

Your children will feel better when they have a less-stressed mom. So it works better for everyone.

Just breathe and release some of your perfectionist tendencies. You’ll feel better, too.


Marianne Clyde is a licensed marriage and family therapist, specializing in anxiety, depression, relationship issues and eating disorders. Happily married with a combined family of 8 children and 10 grandchildren, her office is located at 20 Ashby Street in Warrenton, Virginia. For more information, visit: MarianneClyde.com or call 540-347-3797.

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