1. Use “if -then” consequences. In other words, if the chores are not done correctly, then there’s no watching TV/going out to play/getting on the computer. Whatever your child enjoys doing in their free time is on the line here,so they need to learn to work before play. I know some families that require chores to be done before breakfast. They don’t have many problems with morning dawdlers!
2. Have a set chore time. We do chores twice a day – in the morning after breakfast and in late afternoon. Chore time is the same every day so my children know what to expect. Give fair warnings, like announcing that chore time is in 30 minutes, then setting a timer to let everyone know it’s time to get to work.
3. Set a good example. When your children are doing chores, you do yours, too.
4. Take the time to train. Don’t expect your child to know what to do. Teach them how to look under the bed, behind the dresser and on the closet floor when cleaning their room. Show them how to get into the corners when sweeping the floor. Explain how move furniture around when vacuuming.
5. Inspect their work. Depending the age, ability and dependability of the child, you don’t need to inspect their chores every day. For younger children or a child learning a new chore, you might have to work with them for a while. Eventually they can work on their own, with daily inspections and finally you can taper off to the occasional pop inspection.
6. Use specific feedback. When checking on their work, let your child know what they did right and what needs improvement. Don’t say, “this room is still a mess”, instead say, “You did a good job making the bed, but I see some clothes sticking out under the bed. ” Or, “The bathroom sinks are nice and shiny, but I think you forgot the mirrors.” When they get everything done correctly, give them lots of praise!
7. Be flexible. In our home, afternoon chores need to started at 5 PM. The National Anthem plays at that time, signaling my children to come in from outside. When their chores are completed, they may go back outside. However, I also allow them to do their chores before they head out so that they may play without interruption. However this is a privilege earned by doing chores correctly and without complaint.
8. Remember that chore training is a part of parenting. Yes, it is easier to do household chores yourself. You’ll be faster and do them better. But being consistent with chores is teaching your children so many good things.
For more about how I set up a chore system, see my article at the Homeschool Classroom: Managers of Their Chores.