How to Get Your Kids to Help: Thoughts but Not Necessarily Answers

1. Baby steps.

 Don’t do what I did–have a big family meeting, announcing new exciting chores all the way around.  The fall out reminded me of when you walk by a yard with barking dogs–one trips over the other, a big fight ensues, and the intruder is entirely forgotten.  Make small changes.  Instead of a kid making the WHOLE dinner, have him make the salad until competent, then add the entree.  They will balk if you start too big.  And don’t give up if they do. Just make smaller steps.
2. Notice

I came home one day and the kitchen was spotless.  The Manchild was sitting, nonchalantly on his computer, like nothing happened.  ARE YOU KIDDING?  Done without asking.?!! Rocking Awesome! A true miracle.  NOTICE dear parents.  NOTICE every little approximation to the goal (I learned that in Psychology 101, impressed I remember? me to). Its the baby steps again.
3. Let them in on the big plan 

Do tell them what you are doing and why. In my case, I am adding a huge new project there is no way I can possibly do without intervention, medication, I mean help. So I told them. Not only at the failed meeting, but every day before and since.  And this isn’t just busy work.  I really do need them to take things off my plate.
4. Keep trying and don’t give up.

Keep asking. Keep showing. Be patient and gentle. It takes awhile to learn new things for any of us. And you really do need them to help. And they really do need to learn to do these things. Be nice. Don’t alienate them. When is the last time you did happy work for someone who yelled at you?

5. Praise in moderation. 

Don’t scare the poor things by shrieking in joy when they do a little thing, as if they weren’t capable in the first place.  Respectfully say thank you, notice what they did right or even uniquely. At another time, correct the thing they need revision on by adding that suggestion. Baby steps again.

Kids cooking


Yea, you tell me WHY this photo is cropped so tight? HUH?  hahaha. Any guesses?


  1. Glad your kids are helping you clean. I don’t know if I agree your point about approximation to the goal. Typically successive approximation is used to train animals. I think your son displayed intent. He perceived that the kitchen needed cleaning and he made a conscious choice to clean. That is a sign of maturity to realize that something needs to be cleaned and acting on it before you tell them to clean.
    When they clean because they are told, it’s a response to being told and not a conscious decision to keep things clean or a conscious decision to help you in need.

    1. I agree on that point and particular story. But in a general sense, I have to train them to work in bits. After all, my youngest is 8. Certainly, the older boys can learn in bigger chunks and figure things out for themselves.

      Thanks for your input.

  2. Enjoyed this particular post. Baby steps is a good approach, bite size pieces:) Thanks for sharing…and can’t wait to see pics from your arts show!

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