Inspire Your Kids to Do Chores

Smiling mother helping tween daughter with beads on table in kitchen
Dahl Photo/Alamy Stock Photo

Here are some great ideas to help your kids do their chores: 

Make the bed

Draw a quilt with 30 patches. Each time your child makes her bed, let her color a patch. The goal is to complete the quilt. In the same way, you can motivate your kids to pick up their toys. Draw a toy chest and cut out 30 pictures of toys from advertisements or magazines. If your child picks up his toys at the end of the day, let him glue a picture in the toy box. The goal is to fill the chest.

— Jennifer Bussey

Pick up toys

Children enjoy blending music and work. While you show them how to do developmentally appropriate chores, use a well-known tune and make up lyrics to fit the melody. For example, if you choose "The Farmer in the Dell," you can sing words similar to the following:

We're picking up the blocks.
We're picking up the blocks.
Hi-ho, the derry-o.
We're picking up the blocks.

You also can add a child's name to the song.

Josh picked up a toy.
He's such a wonderful boy.
Hi-ho, the derry-o.
Cleaning is a joy.

— Sharon Wilkins

Feed the pet

Give your child a measuring cup and show him how much food to put in Rover's bowl. Then help your son fill the water bowl as well. Because he can't yet reach the sink on his own, he can fill a cup with water and transfer it to the dish. When he sees Rover chowing down on the food, praise your child for taking care of his pet.

— Abigail Cleveland

Beads for Better Behavior

My husband and I have discovered a practical, yet simple way to promote good behavior in our five children. We give out special beads when our children exhibit good manners, remember to do their chores or promptly respond to our requests. Any positive attribute we want to foster gets a bead.

Each child has a bead holder. They are in charge of putting their beads in, counting them and notifying us when it is time for a reward. For each 50 beads they get, they pick a small prize at the store. Once they reach 300 beads, they pick a one-on-one activity with one parent, such as a movie or a trip to a trampoline park or restaurant. The beads are only used for praise, and we never take one away.

— Sara L. Foust

Neglected Chores

My husband and I tired of reminding our four sons to do chores. We told our boys that if a chore was not completed by a predetermined time, another sibling could do it. Then the neglectful sibling had to pay the one who completed the job. Giving hard-earned money to a brother motivated them, and we no longer had to remind them.

— Sue Heimer

Motivate with a point system

At our home, we've adapted a point system to motivate our kids to take on chores. The system also encourages other ways of helping. It's a fun way to instill responsibility and ownership without resorting to nagging or scolding. Here's how it works:

  1. Each time your child completes a chore or task on his own, award points. The more important or difficult the task, the more points are earned. Especially kind or generous acts earn "bonus" points. Take away points for misbehaviors or failure to perform expected chores. The key is to be consistent. Be sure to decide on a point value system in advance.
  2. At the end of a predetermined time period (such as one month), the child with the most points wins.
  3. Make sure every child benefits regardless of who wins. In our home, the winner gets to decide where our next fun family outing will be — bumper bowling, the family arcade or a kids' movie night to name a few. The winner earns the power of choice, but siblings still get to join in the fun.

— Dan Kassis

Chore charts

Did you finish your homework? Have you set the table? My children and I grew tired of my daily, ineffective interrogations.

One day I laminated a chore list for each child and set up a magnet chart that had their names and the days of the week.

Later, my children picked a small number of inexpensive items they wanted. I labeled each with a "price" of a specific number of magnets that needed to be earned before receiving the prize.

Whenever my children completed their chore list without being reminded, they placed a magnet on the chart. If they did not do their chores, they had to remove a previously earned magnet. Once a child earned enough magnets, the child could redeem an item from the prize box.

— Melinda Means

Build relationships through chores

I felt myself slipping out of touch with my six children. When my oldest boy stressed over his chores, especially doing the dishes, I worked alongside him, giving him an occasional elbow nudge or playfully splashing him. Soon his wall of resistance vanished. Now I view chores as a family relationship builder instead of a burden.

— Brandy Brow


"Inspire Your Kids to Do Chores," the current article was compiled on in 2017. "Make the Bed" first appeared in Focus On Your Child. "Pick Up Toys" was changed from "Cleaning's a Breeze" in Focus on Your Child in 2003. "Feed the Pet" first appeared in Focus on Your Child in 2006. "Beads for Better Behavior" first appeared in the August/September 2017 issue of Focus on the Family magazine. "Neglected Chores" was called "Hurry Up & Chore War" in Focus on Your Child in 2008. "Motivate With a Point System" was called "You Have a Point There" and was published in Focus on Your Child in 2005. "Chore Chart" was published in Focus on Your Child in 2008. "Build Relationships Through Chores" was published in Focus on Your Child. If you enjoyed this article, read more like it in Focus on the Family's marriage and parenting magazine. Get it delivered to your home by subscribing to it for a gift of any amount.

Compiled article is copyright © 2009 by Focus on the Family. "Make the Bed" is © by Focus on the Family. "Pick Up Toys" is © 2003 by Sharon Wilkins. "Feed the Pet" is © 2006 by Focus on the Family. "Beads for Better Behavior" is © 2017 by Sara L. Foust. "Neglected Chores is © 2008 by Sue Heimer. "Motivate With a Point System" is © 2005 by Dan Kassis. "Chore Charts" is © 2008 by Melinda Means. "Build Relationships Through Chores" is © by Focus on the Family.

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