Parenting Sucks!: Getting a head start on chores

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Dear Joanne,

I struggle everyday to get my kids to do their chores. Any suggestions?


Dear Lyndsay,

Getting kids to do their chores is like getting medicine out its childproof container: totally infuriating!  But there are some tricks of the trade.


1.    Start young. As soon as your child is old enough to take his toys out of their bins, he’s old enough to put them back. Make it fun by playing “cleanup basketball” (tossing toys back into their container to earn two points), or have a race to see who can put things away the fastest.
2.    As they get older and know where things belong, kids should be responsible for putting their stuff away by themselves. I know it’s faster and easier for you do it, but give your kids an inch, and they’ll take an eternity of whining and procrastination to do chores by themselves in the future.
3.    Have them do family chores as well. If they’re old enough, let them feed the dog, empty the trashcan, even fold the laundry (don’t expect perfection. These are kids, not salespeople at The Gap).
4.    Let them earn extra privileges by doing extra chores. For example, if you only allot a few hours of computer time, they can earn extra minutes by doing things around the house (our policy is getting two minutes of computer time for every one minute of chores).
5.    When it comes to griping and whining about doing chores, try what I do. Let them know in no uncertain terms that if they complain about doing chores, they get more chores. It works like a charm!

It’s important to understand that kids must do chores. Not only does it give them the tools they need to live in the real world, but it teaches kids that they are part of a family where everybody pitches in for the sake of the whole. Besides, (and I can’t stress this enough) kids are NOT at the top of the family food chain. Parents shouldn’t wait on their children, do things they should be doing themselves, or give them more power than they deserve. If they do, kids will grow up helpless and entitled and we’ve all dated enough men like that in the past to know that that’s never a good thing!

Joanne Kimes is the author of the bestselling “Sucks” series as well as “The Stay-at-Home Martyr.” Visit her at

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About Karen Young

Karen Young is the founder of My Daily Find.

  • Paula Humerick

    Thank you, Joanna, for validating everything I’ve felt about kids and chores. Kids don’t do ANYTHING just by “reaching a certain age”, they have to be taught!

    It has always amazed me that the very same women who complain about not getting help from their partners make a habit of doing everything for their kids, thus perpetuating the cycle. This seems especially true if they are raising boys.

    Kudos to you for pointing out that kids are not at the top of the family food chain. I hope you don’t get too many hostile responses for your brave remarks.

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