How To Get Your Kids Excited About Chores May Be Easier Than You Think
I learned to do chores late in life. It wasn't until I was living on my own and realized that dishes don't just magically get done, and that there's no laundry fairy, that I understood I was going to have to learn to do chores. I eventually grew to love them, and the clean home that resulted from it, but it wasn't something I developed as a child. I didn't want that for my kids. I wanted them to understand the value of that labor from childhood. It turns out that how to get your kids excited about chores is more reliant upon our own attitudes towards chores than I ever thought possible.
According to research published in Infant Behavior and Development, the key to how to get your kids excited about chores is to start having them help out around the house when they're young, and don't expect a lot in the beginning. Kids learn by mimicking what their parents and others around them do and begin to note the feelings of self-gratification very young. If you encourage their feelings of self-sufficiency, and let them know how what they're doing is helpful to your family, they're more likely to continue doing their chores happily.
As per Infant and Behavior, when children learn that they're helping, the desire to help more naturally builds within them. Researchers wrote, "humans have an essential need to form and maintain close social relationships; that such relationships involve effective concern and caring for one another's welfare; and that this core interpersonal motive influences much of human thought, emotion, and behavior." Meaning that it's cyclical — the more helpful and caring that it is, the more they want to help and care for others.
But some scientists view this not only as a helping behavior, but a fun behavior patterning that children engage in all the time in their daily lives. Your kids want to do what you do, and will try to mimic it, and that might be the impetus for getting them to have some enthusiasm around doing chores, noted Social Development. Researchers wrote, "A range of characteristics of infants and their parents play roles in starting the process that leads to infant participation in social routines and behavior that can be labeled as helpful." That means that by doing what you're doing, and also by helping, children are having fun and more apt to look at chores with less disdain later on. Although, I don't think anyone actually enjoys emptying the dishwasher, and if they say they do, they're definitely lying.
This is where kids' broom and dustpan sets, and lightweight vacuums that kids can push, can really become a part of your parenting and a fun activity for your kids, according to Montessori preschool teacher Michelle Reitman of New York. She tells Romper, "In order to get your kids past the hump of doing the chores, you have to start by making it fun." She says that kids love playing, and if there's an element of playing in chores, they're more likely to do it. "Make it a group activity. You can play some upbeat music, dance while you vacuum, or make up a song about feeding the cats." The more interactive it is, the better.
Personally, I've found that doing chores together is the best way to get them done. Not only can I supervise, but my kids just like doing stuff with me. They love walking our dog and washing the walls, provided they get to do the spraying. OK, so my son is never going to like cleaning around the toilet, but since he's the one who sprays the bathroom down in a manner that can only be described as "Pollock-esque," he's just going to have to get over it.