Chores is not the most tantalizing word in the world for what is essentially teaching kids life skills! Kids are kids. They don’t want to do things that sound like work. So it helps to present the chores as something they can enjoy doing. I think using the word “jobs” instead of “chores” sounds much more dignified. Use a word your kids respond positively to!
Make sure the chores are age-appropriate
You should understand what your kids can do, and don’t push them to do things that are above their level. At least not too much. If something is actually difficult or frustrating for them, or if they just don’t know how to do it, the whole thing will become stressful and nobody benefits. See my post about age-appropriate chores over here.
Make it a game
There are lots of ways to make chores a game for kids. You can do the classic “10 second cleanup” where you say, “Let’s see if we can clean up the toys in ten seconds!” Then start counting down from 10 – but verrrrrrrrrrrryyyyyyyyy sslllloooooooowwwwllllyyyyyyyyyyyyyy. They’ll think it’s funny that you’re counting so slowly and will still try to clean as quickly as possible. You can also make it a simple game of “Let’s see if you can find 10 toys to put away!” or “Let’s see who can find 10 pieces of trash!”
Don’t force them
In general, forcing kids to do things they don’t want to do makes a bad time for everyone. Creating negativity about doing chores only makes it harder to get kids to want to do them in the future. Keep the experience positive and, for younger kids, play-oriented.
There’s no rule that says you can’t dance around and do chores at the same time. Let them pick the music!
It’s important that you don’t confuse rewarding with bribing. You shouldn’t say, “If you _____ I’ll give you _____.” Try not to discuss rewards until after the chores have been done. This way, the kids will learn on their own that doing chores is rewarding to them. What can you reward them with? We like to either give them a coin (25 cents or less), a piece of candy, or let them fill in a circle on their chart.
Create a fun chore chart
I tried a few different types of chore charts and I learned that what works best for my kids is a simple, ambiguous chart where they fill in a circle for each chore. This is for my kids who are both small. For older kids, it’s okay to make it a bit more structured, but avoid turning it into a “chore dump” – a list of tasks they’re supposed to do or boxes they’re supposed to tick.