The Chore Challenge: Teaching Kids Responsibility

Discover the secret to getting your kid to set the table or tidy her room without being constantly on her case about it.
boy cleaning floor

Fancy Photography/Veer

My daughter, Zoe, was 5 when I decided to give her a couple of chores: making her bed every morning and putting some of her clean clothes in drawers on laundry day. Let's just say she blew off these tasks for months. I was beyond frustrated that my sweet kid, who eagerly pitched in at school during cleanup time, couldn't care less about lending a hand at home.

Sound familiar? While chores are typically greeted with enthusiasm in the preschool years ("Look, I'm helping Mommy!"), by the time a child is 5 or 6 -- and genuinely ready for more responsibility -- her natural excitement wanes, says parenting expert Deborah Gilboa, M.D., the founder of Don't let your chore-dodger off the hook. To spur her on to action, enlist the help of these motivational tricks from the experts.

Pull Out the Big-Kid Card

If you've never specifically given chores to your kid before, he's going to wonder: Why is Mom making me empty the dishwasher or set the table now? So appeal to his desire to be more grown-up. "It can be as simple as saying, 'Now that you're 5, you're stronger, taller, and more careful. I bet you could put away the washed dinner plates,'" suggests Meg Akabas, founder of Parenting Solutions, a consulting firm.

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Manners & Responsibility: Teaching Your Kids to Set the Table
Manners & Responsibility: Teaching Your Kids to Set the Table

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