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How to get small children to help around the house – and why you should!

How to get small children to help around the houseSome people will disagree with trying to get smaller children to help around the house.

This time in their lives is for play, not for working – surely?

While I am in full agreement that play and fun should be top of the list – theres no reason why some chores can’t be weaved into that fun too!

Children have boundless energy, and its a great way to get them moving and use up some of that energy as well!

I really believe in getting everyone in the family involved in its running smoothly – and that can start early!

Get them prepared for reality!

Getting small children to help around the house is crucial to bringing them up to be able to look after themselves in their adult lives.

We all have to live somewhere, and we all have to run a home at some point in our lives – so we really need to start young to develop the habits that are required to make this as easy as possible.

If things become habits from a very young age – then thats half the battle won.

Having children help out around the house is a natural progression for their development, and is one of the best skills that they can learn from you.

But you can’t expect children to help around the house – can you?

One of the biggest issues with people today is that they simply haven’t learnt how to run a house, and when they move out of their family home and start living somewhere by themselves, they can quickly become unstuck.

Its not taught at school, and if you don’t have parents that let you help out, and visibly see what it takes to run a house from an early age, then you’ll never pick it up (or at least not that easily).

So really – you can’t afford NOT to let your children help out – can you!

But how can I get them involved?

There are loads of ways to get children more involved in chores, and here are my favourites:-

1. Start them off by simply seeing you doing housework and chores – and explain what you’re doing.

Children are sponges when it comes to watching what you’re doing – and just seeing that mummy or daddy do things around the house is enough when they are very little.

I’m not saying do everything around the house with your child, but letting them see you do a few things regularly will get them used to the fact that jobs have to be done.

If you always leave housework until they are asleep or at nursery etc.. then they will never see this as part of life – and won’t learn the skill – they will always think that the house stays clean by itself (if only!)

You can make it a fun time as well, so if they aren’t yet talking you could have them in a baby bouncer or seat and sing to them, and talk to them about what you’re doing – they just love to be around you and listen to you so make the most of it!

2. When they become old enough, they will naturally want to copy you

Children learn by watching and imitating – they are sponges to what their parents do, good or bad.

I was moved by this video I recently saw, which really hits home hard about what happens when you show children a bad way to be. It makes me more determined than ever to be a good example to my daughter – hope you feel the same after watching it (it is quite shocking, but really gets the point across).

So, why not set them a good example, and show them that yes, housework has to be done, but it doesn’t have to be a chore, and makes life easier for them as well.

3. Allocate chores based on age and ability

Children aren’t slaves!

They shouldn’t be expected to do a lot at a young age at all – but simply helping a little here and there, or being given specific tasks as they grow older will be great for them.

Things like:-

  • Give them a duster and get them to “polish”
  • A small handheld hoover or a small brush to help clean floors is great fun!
  • Making their bed
  • Tidying their room
  • Tidying up after playing with toys
  • Watering plants
  • General digging and weeding is great fun – and messy too!
  • Helping to wash the car – sponge, bucket and soap – fantastic!

All totally possible for little ones to do, and will give them a sense of satisfaction when they do it as well.

My daughter (OK she may have issues with organising too much already – at the age of 4 – wonder where she gets that from!) – loves to tell me that her bed is made each morning, and she also really enjoys helping me do the housework – she thinks its playing – and we get to chat while we do it as well which is really special time!

4. Make it into a game!

Chores don’t have to be boring.

Why not create some form of competition like a race against each other, or time them to see if they can do it faster than the last time – or even make it more interesting by dividing into categories i.e. when tidying up – what about finding all the dolls first, then the bricks etc….

Why not tap into something your child shows a genuine interest in as well? If they love baking then why not get them involved in helping make the evening meal for example.

5. Make it easy for them to help

If you have storage thats accessible for them to be able to put their own things away, and hooks so that they can hang up their own clothes etc… then you are making life so much easier for everyone.

You could also have a different colour allocated to each child in the house – so that they know exactly whats theirs and what needs to be tidied up (Have a coloured bin in the hallway and put anything that needs tidying away or taking upstairs into it – that way they know that they have to get it done, and you don’t have to keep telling them).

Children will give up if its too difficult, and you will find you are helping them every time they have to do something – so give them the ability to be more independent and they will thrive!

What about if you have child specific toys related to cleaning (a mini hoover, a brush etc…) then they will play cleaning and end up helping you anyway – theres all sorts of toys like this on the market!

Also – a great idea is to give them their own cleaning bag thats similar to what you use – have a cloth, a duster, a sponge etc.. in their and then make a big deal of that being their very own – children start to relish independence and their own things from a really early age.

4. Reward chores done

Just as I promote rewarding yourself when you’ve achieved a task, I also think a reward chart for little ones is a great way of getting them motivated.

Its also a great way to show them without having to tell them what their jobs are, as you can draw a picture of each task that they have to do – so they can see what needs to be done at a glance.

Add things like good listening, eating their food, making their bed, tidying their room etc…. and give them a star for everything they do.

See how may stars they can get each day. I find that a weekly roundup to see how they’ve done, followed by a treat of some kind is enough to keep them going! – and it doesn’t have to be a big treat at all:-

  • Some time with you reading their favourite book
  • A trip to the park
  • A film
  • Some sweets / Chocolate / Ice cream

5. Don’t worry about the end result – taking part is what counts!

We do sometimes expect too much from little ones, and its important to remember how little they are sometimes.

The key is to accept that they are trying to help, and willing to help – and encourage them slowly.

They will be put off for a long time (maybe always) if you are always telling them how to do something, or telling them that they haven’t done it right all the time.

They will be encouraged to do more next time if they are praised for their efforts.

6. Increase responsibility as they get older

It can also be a reward to give different chores to children as they get older – more responsible chores as well such as helping with shopping lists, looking after the smaller children etc….

Look at what your child is capable of, and keep increasing the difficulty for them – kids like nothing more than a challenge that they can accomplish so why not stretch them – saves boredom setting in!

If you have more than one child then its a great way to get them even more motivated to help, as they can see that they get different and probably in their eyes, better jobs as they get older.

In summary

Getting small children to help around the houseKids want to learn, and want to copy their parents – so why not let them do this with chores in the house?

They are learning a skill that will serve them well for a lifetime, and will be having fun with it along the way.

They are also learning to take care of their things, and take pride in their home.

Make it fun, stretch them depending on their abilities and interests, and reward attempts and good work, and they will flourish.

What do your children do to help you? Leave your comments below – I’d love to know!

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