Start early. Don’t wait until your kids are teenagers to ask them to pitch in. The earlier you foster these helpful habits, the more likely they will become second nature as your kids grow up.
Divvy duties by age. Toddlers love to help, so give them simple tasks like helping you put away toys or placing a newspaper in the recycling bin. Young kids can carry their dirty clothes to the hamper or put napkins on the dinner table. Pre-teens can help sort laundry, unpack groceries, and sweep. Teens can run the washer and dryer, rake the lawn, walk the dog, and take out the trash.
Put on a happy face. If you have little ones, sing a funny song during cleanup time or turn it into a silly game. It’ll make the “work” seem fun.
Don’t micromanage. Show your kids how you want things done, and let them take ownership of the job at hand. For example, let the child who’s in charge of laundry choose the scent of fabric softener that he or she likes best. And no matter what their age, be sure to praise your kids during and after their tasks.
Should you pay allowance? That’s up to you. It can help nurture a sense of fiscal responsibility. But there’s also a life lesson to be taught in helping out—just to help out. A compromise might be the best move. Some chores, like putting clothes in the laundry bin and loading dishes in the dishwasher, could just be expected of every member of the family team, while others, such as washing the car (or the dog), might merit an allowance.