How do you get teenagers to do chores.

Leonie - posted on 02/28/2011 ( 15 moms have responded )




I have 4 kids aged 9, 12, 13, &15.

What do other mothers of teenagers do to get them to do chores. Do you find punishment or reward works better? What punishement or reward works best at your house? Do you pay your kids to do jobs? How much?


Alex - posted on 03/01/2011




this kinda makes me laugh cause it wasnt so long ago that i was a teenager not doing chores.....1. sitting then down and talking to them wont work LOL we will not only be sitting there thinking god ur a bitch we will also go away and mock you with our siblings, 2. remember your time is not teenage time...i used to do dishes but id do them between ad breaks watch tv go do some dishes watch tv go do some yes it probably took alot longer to do the dishes and yes my mum did the whole i just dont get why u dont do them quickly and its all over thing....but teenager just dont think like LENIENT the truth is if u bitch and moan and push them to do things faster or your way then...they are gunna stop doing them all together cause in there brain they are thinking "well i get yelled at if i do the dishes and i get yelled at if i dont so what the point", 3. I know its really hard cause to you its like god i do chores and shit all day but THANK them even if its something you asked them to do teenagers need to be motivated so just let them know that u noticed what they did and itll help alot soon they will do things just to get u to say hey what a great job you did....but seriously biggest thing to remember TEENAGERS DONT THINK LIKE try and think like them

NANCY - posted on 03/02/2011





Jane - posted on 02/28/2011




My now 21 and 17 year olds had certain things they did because they were part of the family. Keep rooms clean, make beds, put away their clean laundry. The 21 year old emptied the dishwasher every day and checked to be sure the dogs had water. The 17 year old took out the trash and feeds the dogs. (21 year old is in college so she's not here). Anything above and beyond, we attached a monetary figure too such as raking, shoveling, mowing, etc. Those were things they could do if they wanted to make money or not do....totally negotiable. Worked great for our family.

Katherine - posted on 02/28/2011





Stop the Show: I believe that parents really have to learn how to stop the show. What does this mean? If your child is not doing his chores, you simply stop everything, tell him to have a seat and talk to him about it. Ask him what he thinks is going on and what's getting in his way of doing his assigned tasks. Find out what his plans are after he’s finished and try to motivate him toward getting the work done so he move onto what he really wants to do. Appealing to a child’s self-interests—rather than explaining the abstract concept of responsibility or duty—is generally much more effective for kids.


Time Your Child’s Performance: Timing is a good way to get your child to comply with doing chores. You can say, “All right, the dishes have to be done in 20 minutes.” If they're not done in 20 minutes, then your child’s bedtime is earlier. Now there’s a cost associated with his foot-dragging. The beauty of this system is that you're not constantly nagging anymore, you're just keeping time. The next night, you can say, “Let's not repeat what happened last night—because remember, you didn't enjoy going to bed earlier.”

Another timing strategy parents can use is a technique where you motivate kids to compete with themselves. You can say, “Let's see if you can get it done in 15 minutes tonight. But remember, you have to do it right. I'm going to check.” You can even give them an incentive: “If you get it done within 15 minutes, you can stay up 15 minutes later. Or you can stay online 15 minutes more.” So then it becomes more exciting and stimulating for the child. And while your child won’t lose anything if he or she doesn’t get it done, they’ll gain something if they do. That kind of reward system is always preferable to one in which the kid loses something, because it’s more motivational and less punitive—you’re giving your child an incentive to do better.


Consider Giving Kids an Allowance: I think if parents are financially able to give kids an allowance, they should do it. Your child’s allowance should also be hooked into their chores—and to the times when your child fails to complete his tasks or has to be reminded to do them. So for example, if your child has to be told more than once to do his chore, he would lose a certain part of his allowance—let’s say a dollar. And each time you remind him, he loses another dollar. It is also appropriate to give that part of his allowance to a sibling who does the chore instead. This way, you're not working on the chore, you're working on the communications process, as well as your child’s motivation.


Use Structure: Structure is very important when it comes to completing household tasks. I believe there should be a time to do chores in the evening or in the morning. Personally, I think that evenings are best during the school year, because doing chores in the morning just adds to the stress and intensity of the schedule. Summertime is easier in some ways because you’re not contending with homework. So in the summer, chores should be done first, before anything else gets done. For example, before the video games or any electronics go on, make it a rule that your child’s bed has to be made, his clothes should be in the hamper and his room is tidy. This way, he’s starting to learn that before he can have free time, his responsibilities have to be met. Again, you never want to be pulling your child back from something exciting in order to do something mundane and boring. Rather, you want to get them to work through the mundane and boring things to get to something exciting.

Sometimes as a parent you have to ask yourself, if my child isn’t doing his chores, what is he doing? You really have to be aware of how your child is using his time. If he’s not doing his chores because he’s playing on the computer or reading a comic book, you've got to stop that pattern. The choice shouldn't be “excitement or chore.” The choice should be “boredom or chore.” What I mean is that kids have to understand that they can't go listen to music in their rooms or just hang out until their chores are finished.

I also think it’s a good idea to set aside time during the day when all the kids in your family are doing their chores at once. So your 15 year old might be unloading the dishwasher while your 11 year old is taking out the garbage. That way, no one feels as if they’re missing out or being punished by having to complete their tasks. It’s just chore time.


Don’t Turn Chores into Punishment: I tell parents not to use chores as punishment. If somebody misbehaves and does something wrong, don't give them a consequence of doing the dishes, for example. The only time that's appropriate is if your child does something wrong to another sibling. And so in order to make amends—in order to right the wrong—they do that person's chore for them. That's a physical way of saying, “I was wrong to do that and I'm doing your chore to show you that I'm sincere.” That’s the only time when I advocate that parents use chores as something more than an assigned task.


Use a Reward System: It’s pretty simple: If you want kids to take responsibility for their chores, integrate their tasks with some reward system that has to do with allowance, as we mentioned, or in some other observable way. I recommend that parents have a chart on the refrigerator with each child’s name on it, with their chores listed next to their names. If they make their bed promptly and do it right, they get a check. When they get five checks, they get some reward. Maybe it's staying up an hour later. Maybe it's having more computer time one night. In my opinion, the computer, video games and television don’t have to be on every waking hour. Just because the computer is there doesn’t mean the child has to be using it—especially if your kids argue about it. Each child should get an hour of computer time, and then computer time is over. If they want more than that hour, they should have to earn it. This allows you to use computer time, TV time, and video game time as a reward. Of course, this doesn’t apply to schoolwork or projects that they have to do on the computer.

Related: Learn how to set limits with your child.

Kids might understand that doing the dishes is part of their role in the family but they're not going to feel it in some significant way. Chores are work, and in that sense very few of us like to work unless we're getting rewarded for it. And the reward has to be something we like. If my boss had paid me in carrots I wouldn't have worked much at all—because one or two carrots and I'm all set. Kids have the same motivating principle. They want a reward that's in currency they like. The idea that they should learn to do chores for some abstract reason—like duty or responsibility—sounds good on paper, but has very little practical application in a child’s life.


View replies by

Clara - posted on 04/02/2014




Children should start out early in life learning how to help Mom and Dad around the house. This is when they are MOST interested in helping and pleasing the parents. As they grow and become less interested in what seems like everything - it will be a little easier for them to understand that since they ARE a member of the house hold and just because they are now older - that does not mean that they are no longer required to help out - in fact they actually can have more chores added to their list as they age. To make doing these "chores" more palatable parents may want give some "kick-backs" such as a ticket to a movie, trip to a favorite restaurant with a friend, a "girls movie night /sleep over or a "boy's" camping weekend with Dad and some friends, family game night and the list of rewards can go on and on. NEVER - EVER - give them money - UNLESS you plan to set up a checking account for them and teaching them the REAL value of money and earning it....teaching them to become proper stewards of the gift of money. Otherwise, if you just give them money then can be temped at school to spend it on things that can be very harmful to themselves. God Bless ALL you Mom's and Parents everywhere!

Jayne - posted on 08/24/2013




To keep my home tidy and clean I make my kids do some chores, if they dont I leave their things lying around for a week (its hard to look at the mess), and I just wash up my plate and rinse theirs and put it in the dirty side of the sink, they have to wash their own and wash their own cloths as if they dont they dont have any cloths except of course school cloths,in which i make them put them in the washing machine themselves, in doing all of this i shut their bedroom door so i dont have to look at the mess. It works, even though it is hard to do this but they soon learn.

Menerva - posted on 03/01/2011




assign them household chores as apart of their responsibilities being a teen ager. it will help them be a responsible person.

Karissa - posted on 03/01/2011




Ours have to do them....simple. They dont get pocket money for all of them. Its part of living in a home and pulling your weight.
They can do them whenever they want to.....catch is they cant have games or internet until done. Doesn't usually take to long! :)

Deepti - posted on 02/28/2011




hi in a family it is important to allot some work to each family member and it requires no reward except a sincere thanks and appreciation.sit around with ur kids and explain after a hard day u get exhausted and need some break and cooperation... let them volunteer for the type of job they are interested... also u can ask the eldest one to act like a responsible adult nd look after his siblings... ask them politely for cooperation in their own work like cleaning up their own room... u can also start on the music and work playfully so that ur kids gets inspired by ur example and join u...often kids need guidance and motivation... there is no need for punishment

Jodi - posted on 02/28/2011




If my 13 year old doesn't do chores, or whinges and moans about it, I simply refuse to do anything for him. Simple.

I do pay an allowance, and he loses that too, but the allowance isn't necessarily FOR the chores. If he does extra without complaint, I will give him a bit extra.

It's amazing how willing he is to do chores when he realises that he has no other way of getting to football training, or when he realises he might be delegated to a toasted sandwich for dinner (made by him) rather than the yummy roast I cooked. You get the picture.

And this doesn't only apply for chores either, it applies to the way he treats other people. Lack of respect will draw much the same reaction from me :D

Oh, and removal of TV, computer, game privileges.

It's pretty much just accepted around here that everyone pitches in.

[deleted account]

My girls are 9. They like to play on my computer while I take a shower, so I 'bribe' them. If stuff is done... they can play. If it isn't... they'd better get it done fast or they don't play. Sometimes I pay them a dollar or two to do extra things.

Theresa - posted on 02/28/2011




The best way is to start them out young. My sons (15 and 12) have certain things that are expected of them and they do them, sometimes it takes a reminder or two, but they do them. They are expected to keep their rooms clean, fold and put away their clean clothes, and make their beds. They dn't get paid for those things, that's just their job in being part of the family. Things above and beyond that they get paid for. They shovel, mow, and rake for $5 a time. They will help with other things around the houseif asked too. Usually they don't get "paid". They know that I do extra things for them like take them out to eat or do fun things. I'm not above making them feel guilty for all the things I do for them s they could do a few things for me. I also pull the "I'll remember that the next time you want something for me." Usually it works. I also make sure that I thank them for the help the do give me. I really think that kids want to be praised and acknowleged for the things they do. Just like you would like to be appreciated at the end of the day for what you do.

Erica - posted on 02/28/2011




I believe that kids are part of the house and should not be paid for chores....But that is just me. If they dont do them, then take away the cell phone, computer and video games....Once they having "nothing" to do then maybe they will do there chores

Tavia - posted on 02/28/2011




My daughter is 14 and the best way to get to do her chores are taking away the electronics. I do reward her for doing things that I normally would do because as a single parent we split the responsibilities such as laundry, cleaning, dishes. When I pay her its usually no more than 5 bucks.

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