Sometimes it can be hard to motivate kids to do the things that they should – and need – to be doing to maintain an orderly and peaceful home environment. One of those things is of course the dreaded chores list.

As parents, we all know the quickest way to get a child off the couch – just rattle the piece of paper and their gone in 60 seconds! 

For some reason I've found that my kids often have a 'do it later' or even better 'someone else will do it later' switch that's stuck to the on position. 

To be fair, these days there are a lot of distractions… school activities, video games, cell phones, and computers… a lot of them sound frivolous, but many adults are dealing with the same modern dilemmas. And it's not like I've never had that attitude myself, especially in the bad old days before I got responsible and started using my daily BOOST.

For that reason, it's not a bad idea to cut them some slack, but it is also a valuable life lesson to instill in them an interest in keeping their home nice and the desire to want to help out and tackle their chores list.

The hard part?

The solutions are not always cookie cutter.

Not every method of motivation will work with your child. Also, what may be totally awesome for one child may be totally wrong for another. 

One thing to be aware of… while we all want to be a friend on some level to our child, always keep in mind that we also need to be their leader, teacher, and motivator, too. This can be a delicate balance and often leaves us in a predicament when it comes time to enforce rules and expectations – and bring out the chores list!


Here are a few things that have worked for me to motivate my kids to be more active in getting their chores done around the house. The great news is that most of these things are not so much in way of handing out chores as giving them a foundation and willingness to do them rather than doing them because they HAVE to. 


Your kids will carry the motivation that they have learned from you with them when they leave the nest, which will be sooner than you think. 

Come to think of it, these methods work ON me too!

When push comes to shove, that is an excellent barometer. Ask yourself, what would motivate me if someone else was trying to get my cooperation? 

  • 1. Kids love praise. Your kids want your attention and praise. If they know that doing the things they're supposed to do will bring them praise, they're more likely to do those things. You're their parent and they want to make you proud of them. By encouraging them and praising them frequently, you're reinforcing good behavior.
  • 2. Offer rewards. Often, children are motivated by rewards. The rewards don't have to be large or involve money. Kids most often will treasure a reward of spending time with you. Do an activity they enjoy… read to them…laying games with them…  curl up and watch a movie together. All of these rewards are positive motivators for your children. They'll be much more eager to tackle the chores list if the reward is something they can look forward to.
  • 3. Lead by example. If your kids see you doing nothing all day long, they'll feel as if it's okay for them to do the same thing. Remember that your children are like a sponge and they look up to you and model themselves after you – even if they won't admit it. Show your kids that regular tasks can be rewarding. The smile on your face from a job you've done well done will very likely not go unnoticed by little eyes – and even big ones.
  • 4. Natural consequences. There's a big difference between consequences and punishment. When your children don't do the things they're supposed to, you can teach them how their actions or inactions can have a negative impact. The best way that I find to do this… and the one that I struggle with the most, even as they get older.. is not to enable. Don't do if for them if they will have to accept a consequence. If it's something that's not so obvious, be sure to point it out in a conversational way. Don't make it a power struggle or a criticism. Talk about your own experience if you have had some in that area, and chances are that you have. Innocent
  • 5. Show love. Your children need and want your love and devotion. Get involved, truly interested and engaged in their lives. Showing children you appreciate and respect them will build a deeper bond between you. If your child is really interested in something, do it with them or support them in any way that you can. It doesn't sound much like it's related to housework and chores, but don't let them down when they need you and chances are, they won't let you down either. It just wouldn't be cool, would it?


Motivating our kids isn't always easy. As a matter of fact, we need to be motivated to motivate them!

It takes dedication, consistency and yes, sometimes it would even be easier to do it ourselves. Who would have thought!

But when we take the time to provide the example and direction needed to build a child's character we are much more likely to help them to become a productive, responsible adult.

As a parent, it's your job to mold your children into caring, responsible and respectful adults. When you think of it that way, getting the living room vacuumed is a perk!


Remember, kids are people too and are motivated by the same things that motivate you and me.

Things like love, attention, pleasure, rewards and recognition top the list of things children crave in their lives. I'm willing to bet if you think about it, you can recognize this in yourself too. Thinking of it this way makes it quite easy to do the right thing, and hopefully get the dishes done!

Next time your exasperated in your efforts to motivate your kids to help you out with the list of chores, remember to lay the groundwork. In the end, the chores list will get finished – even if it takes awhile – you'll be the super duper mom you always wanted to be and some day, your kids might even thank you.

Who would have ever thought we could get so much from a chores list?

Want to try something fun? Join TAKE 5. It's free. You get a 5 minute chore sent to your email every day. The fun part is that you could make it a game to do with your kids. Get them to help you, or make it a chore for them to do. Let them open the email and see what's inside. It can't hurt to try!

Sign Up For TAKE 5 – it only takes 5 minutes.

About the Author

Jan Ferrante

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  1. I’ve been thinking a lot lately about chores and how to get the kids to work on things. It’s amazing when they are young how EAGER they generally are to help with tasks! If I can just channel that into something that will help me get things done around here.

    GREAT idea on the rewards idea – that’s one of the things I was struggling with – thinking of what they could “get” for helping out. They are still so really young, the concept of money is still so foreign to them. I’m not sure I want to introduce the allowance factor! lol. Quality time sounds like a great compromise!!

    Thanks for the incentive. Now I just need to stop being a lazy bum and actually DO my chore lists….!

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