Age-by-age motivation to get kids doing chores

As a mom, you’re probably aware that delegating chores to your children is good for everyone involved. You’ll get a break, the house will be germ-free and your kids will feel empowered. Win-win, right? Unfortunately, motivating your darling little ones is sometimes easier said than done.

Kids progress through ages and stages faster than most moms can keep up. Once you’ve achieved mastery over tantrums and sippy cups, your sweet toddler has likely moved on to another challenge that you’re not sure how to manage. Maybe that’s why nearly half of our readers report that it’s easier to just clean the house themselves, rather than bothering with family battles and motivational talks about chores.

Take heart, fearless warrior. We’re here to help you motivate your kids to clean up after their own darn selves. And they need to do it, too. Modern moms are so overwhelmed that two-thirds don’t even know where the germiest spots are in their homes, which seriously puts the family at risk for illness. As long as your kids use use cleaners that don’t leave harsh residues like Lysol Power & Free Multi-Purpose Wipes, why not give delegation a try?

Toddlers and preschoolers

Household chores motivation: Toddlers

When it comes to child development, the toddler and preschool years are the best time to introduce your children to responsibilities like cleaning. According to developmental psychologist Erik Erikson, kids as young as 2 to 3 years old benefit greatly from learning personal control and independence. Cleaning can be fantastic practice for decision-making, since the stakes are fairly low and most young kids have a real interest in cleaning up, just like Mom and Dad do.

Motivational tips from SK moms

  • Encourage participation. “She is only 4, but she likes to do whatever Mommy’s doing, and it’s fun for her.”
  • Set up choices. “Include them in decisions about what to throw away or give away.”
  • Let them choose fun products. “They like to use products that change colors to show it’s working.”

School-age kiddos

Household chores motivation: School-aged kiddos

Erikson asserts that children between the ages of 5 and 11 are hardwired to enjoy accomplishing tasks on their own. It’s really important for parents to give their kids increasing responsibilities and praise at home and school so they can start developing a sense of mastery and empowerment. Have fun with it, Mom. We promise your children will enjoy taking ownership of a chore. Since germ-busting is one of the last priorities for moms (and since 60 percent of you only think you know where the germs hide in your home), give your child a goal to learn about the germiest spots in the home — like the toilet — as well as free rein to bust those germs with Lysol Power & Free Toilet Bowl Cleaner.

Motivational tips from SK moms

  • Praise like crazy. “We make it a learning experience and fun by [celebrating] a sense of accomplishment when it’s done.”
  • Coach a routine. Make it a “part of a routine, with one-step instructions” that are easy to follow.
  • Find a reward they love. “If my child does chores besides the ones she’s assigned, she gets rewarded in some way. She has a special coupon book with rewards pages for helping.”
  • Trust their abilities. “My child has weekly chores that have pretty much become a habit by now and he does it without question.”

Tweens & teens

Household chores motivation: Tweens & teens

Ah, the teenage years. They’re also known as the years of battling over cleanliness. The good news is that you can avoid battles by helping your kids see that cleanliness and responsibility can be a part of their emerging identity, since Erikson asserts that the teenage years are all about developing independence. Choose not to engage in battles, but instead reframe arguments by saying, “I know you don’t want to clean, but keeping a germ-free and organized space is one way you can show me that you’re ready for more adult responsibilities.”

Motivational tips from SK moms

  • Emphasize teamwork. “We try to get it done as quickly as possible so we can move on to more fun things.”
  • Make it an experience. “On Saturday morning, we turn up the music. Once we’re done [cleaning], we enjoy friends and activities.”
  • Talk about their future. “Always keep the kids involved in every aspect of household cleanliness, so they’ll know how to treat their own homes when they get older.”
This post was sponsored by Lysol.

More on organizing and cleaning

Readers reveal how they get their kids to clean
10 Things you don’t clean as often as you should
Skip making the bed: 10 Other tasks your kids should do


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