Involving your kids in daily household chores doesn’t just take the load off your shoulders. It also teaches your kids how to care for a home and develop a sense of responsibility.
One way to help support your kids in developing positive habits and learning how to contribute to household chores is with a chore wheel. However, chore wheels can be confusing and ineffective if not created properly.
An effective chore wheel empowers your kids by making their responsibilities clear, attainable and measurable. It may incorporate a system of rewards to incentivize participation.
A chore wheel must be flexible so you can adapt it to be more supportive of everyone’s success. Alter the chores or change their order, adorn the wheel differently or invent a different system if need be. By keeping it interesting, your children are more likely to come back to it to see what comes next.
1. Make Chores Age-Appropriate
Children have different capabilities at different ages. Different chores are more appropriate for children of certain minimum ages. One way to make sure your children feel empowered to complete the chores assigned to them on the wheel is to pick chores that are appropriate for their developmental level and adjust these chores as they continue to grow.
The following list gives parents an idea of what chores are appropriate for children of different ages:
- Two to three years of age – Picking up books and toys, wiping up messes, placing laundry into the hamper, placing washed clothes into the dryer and dusting using a rag or feather duster.
- Four to six years of age – Emptying the trash, taking care of pets, setting and clearing the dining table, folding small pieces of laundry, helping to match socks, putting away groceries, making the bed and picking up their bedroom.
- Seven to 10 years of age – Folding laundry, getting mail, helping wash the car, taking out the trash, sweeping the floor, vacuuming the carpet, watering the plants, helping prepare meals.
- 11 years of age and older – Washing dishes, taking the trash to the curb, mowing the yard, cleaning the bathroom, supervising siblings, unloading the dishwasher, mopping floors, packing lunches, cleaning out the refrigerator and washing windows.
In addition to the chores listed for a certain age group, any age group can perform any of the chores listed for younger age groups if you want to alter their chores throughout the week.
2. Keep it Reasonable
It is important to keep in mind that children have other requirements and needs besides doing their chores. For instance, they may have homework to complete. Additionally, children require enough playtime every day and sleep every night to be happy and stay healthy.
Make sure the chores you assign your children do not create an undue burden on them or interfere with their other needs and requirements in life. Your children should still have time to do other things in the day.
3. Use Visuals
Visual elements help make a chore chart more interesting and comprehensible to children. Use different colored paper or markers for each chore on the wheel. In addition to the description of each chore, use stickers or images cut out from magazines to visually represent them, as this can help your child understand what is being asked of him or her.
Children who are more tactile in their learning might benefit from a magnetic chore wheel with magnets they can move from an incomplete side to a completed side of the wheel, or a chart with boxes they can check or cross over as they complete items.
4. Keep it Visible
Make sure to place your family chore wheel in a place where the whole family can see it every day. This ensures that no one forgets to reference it or misses any daily chores. Additionally, try to place the chart low enough that even the youngest family member can easily see it.
Some good options include sticking it onto the refrigerator, hanging it on a bulletin board in the hallway or placing it on the inside of your children’s bedroom door. This allows you to place the chart at eye level so your child can see it.
5. Set a Positive Example
Do not expect any more of your children than you are willing to live up to yourself. Make sure your home is already clean before imposing a chore wheel on your children. Otherwise, you run the risk of overwhelming them from the start with an unrealistic and unsustainable burden.
A good idea to set a positive example is to put your chores on the chart as well. This lets your children know what chores are expected of you too, so they know that everyone in the family is contributing to the household and what that entails.
6. Schedule Family Chore Time
While it may not be convenient in every household, if it is possible to schedule a time when the whole family does their chores at once, it can help everyone feel more motivated to complete their chores.
Related Article: 4 Tips for a Cleaner Living Space
Weekends are usually the best times to schedule family chore times. To keep it fun each week, a different family member can have the choice of what music to play on the stereo while everyone does their chores.
7. Incorporate Consequences
A system of rewards and repercussions associated with the chore wheel helps instill a sense of consequences for the choices your children make and the actions they take. Make the rewards for complying with the chore wheel and repercussions for not complying appropriate for the given chores.
Additionally, avoid making rewards and repercussions excessive. Excessive punishment could put undue emphasis on the consequences at the expense of the positive lessons they can learn, like responsibility, cleanliness and cooperation.
Ultimately, performing chores must be reward enough in its own right and eschewing chores must be punishment enough. Until your children get to this point, it can be helpful to teach them that they can only get a desired item or have permission to do something they like for completing their chores.
The item can be as simple as a gold star or a sticker and the permission can be as basic as an extra half-hour of screen time. The key is to pick something where the consequences matter enough to the child for him or her to place value on them.
Related Article: Developing an Effective Home Cleaning Routine