Mess zones. Or perhaps just mess or maybe an atomic explosion (crayon all over the wall perhaps?)

Sometimes it is better to cordon off areas for children to play in to minimise disruptions to daily living space. What about the aftermath of their play?

Well instead of parents being the ones to clean up, why not get the kids to clean up together?

Children may resist the idea of taking time out to do chores. However, if it becomes a routine, where everybody does the task together, it would negate the feeling of an obligatory punishment, but rather, just a standard routine. James Sears, MD has mentioned that through doing chores, he is actually teaching children about responsibility and that doing chores is just a fraction of how life works, which is putting in effort (Barker).
If you think about it, it is just taking responsibility for your own actions. That is easy for an adult to understand but difficult to teach to children of that age.

Likewise age will determine the ability of the child to help out in the house

Here’s an example listed by Barker:

Age Group


4 – 5 Years Old

  • Put away toys
  • Sort Socks
  • Stack magazines
  • Help set the table

6 – 7 Years Old

  • Walk the dog
  • Help prepare lunch
  • Making the bed
  • Watering the plants
  • Putting dishes in the sink

8 – 9 Years Old

  • Feed and clean the pet
  • Clean the bathroom sink
  • Removing of sheets and pillowcases
  • Washing of fruits/vegetables
  • Set the table

10 – 11 Years Old

  • Take out the trash
  • Put away groceries
  • Washing and drying of dishes
  • Taking out laundry
  • Folding Clothes
12 -13 Years Old
  • Doing laundry
  • Making simple meals
  • Cleaning up their bedroom

How to Motivate Participation in Chores?

Well, here’s a compilation of tips from experts & parents,

  • Listen

Find out why a child is not doing his child. What is stopping him or slowing him down in doing it. Motivate him to complete it so that he can put his time and attention on his interest upon completion. Focusing on the positive activity is much more motivation instead of insisting on responsibility.

  • Together Time

Setting aside time during the day everyone is doing their chores would prevent anyone from missing out or having the feeling of being punished by having to complete their tasks. Likewise, things can get a little stale if it is repeated, and it would be a good idea to rotate chores rather than fixate it.

  • Helping Hand:

Should the child say that the chore is too difficult; parents should offer a helping hand. I don’t mean that the parent completes the chore on behalf of the children, but do it together. The reason is so that the child does not equate chore with punishment (Barker)

  • ‘Out of sight, out of mind’

This statement applies. What do we mean? If your child’s storage bin for toys is unreachable, naturally they would not reach out for it, unless they want to play with it. So what parents can do for the child is to make sure that the space is child ‘Clean Up’ friendly, such as storage areas can be easily reached, and heavy lifting can be avoided. Likewise, if you have something you would not like your child to have access to can be placed on a high shelf. Eye levelled space can be used to hold light items, to avoid injury or accident should they drop or be pulled down.

  • Reward

This is a touchy subject. Parents may think of chores as a duty, responsibility, innate behaviour, whichever they call it. But if you apply the concept to your work, you will come to same conclusion. Work is work, how much effort you put into it, churns out in reward. For adults, it is from satisfaction and money.

What about children?

Lehman mentioned ‘Abstract reason—like duty or responsibility—sounds good on paper, but has very little practical application in a child’s life.” Upon giving it some serious thought, you’d realised it was true. So what is a currency for chore? Well for some children, they like cleanliness and order. For others, it’s simply work. How should we motivate them? Parents can challenge their children. If they do their task quickly and within the time set, the time left can be an extension of an activity that they enjoy. This is definitely a better motivation than constant nagging on responsibility.

Quoting Lehman’s “Invest the time and some positive energy in teaching him about where things belong so he’ll not only learn to do it right and by himself, but he’ll ultimately learn about the benefits of organization for other aspects of his life as well.” Ultimately, children will learn that chores are not a form of punishment, but rather activities that equip them with life skills. While it may be cleaning, or organising, the child will learn that their involvement has contributed to the overall cleanliness and comfort of their living space.

  • Appreciation: 

All children want to please, to meet expectations, so be appreciative when your child is doing their part to help with chores. Do not be fast to reproach the child when they are not performing up to your standard.

Remember, a little help goes a long way, and a heartfelt thanks makes the heart fonder!

To credit Family photo created by freepik –

Cheryl Butler. How to Get Kids to Help Out With Chores. Retrieved from:
Joanne Barker. Children’s Chores: Getting Help Around the House. Retrieved from:
James Lehman. “I’ll Do It Later!” 6 Ways to Get Kids to Do Chores Now Retrieved from:
Lana Hallowes. 6 ways to get kids to do housework. Retrieved from: