This morning I stumbled upon a strange pile of pajama pants, lotion and deodorant in the middle of my living room floor that my son knows should not be there.

He is like most kids, he understands that there are chores that he is required to do around the house. He also knows that if he sits quietly enough, I will likely forget to tell him to do them.

However, he has no clue about the strategic parenting ninja moves I am capable of, including removing all of his electronics from his room while he sat watching TV on the couch, inches from his pile of displaced belongings.

I’m preaching to the choir when I say that getting your children to help more around the house can be tricky.

Here are some age appropriate ideas to help minimize the struggle:


Make it a Game: Most parents know the “Clean-Up” song. It’s sung at most child care centers and puts children into a jubilant trance-like state as they clean up all of their messes.

That is an exaggeration, but the song is very effective. Equally effective is making a game out of cleaning. It can be a race to see who cleans up their toys first.

If your children has seen the movie Toys, you can even pretend it’s time to put the toys away so they can have their quiet play time in the toy box.

Use your imagination, clap, cheer and praise the heck out of your sweet little cleaning machine!



Use more loving, less demanding: This may not work with every kid, but I have found that the more honey I sprinkle on my request, the happier my son is to do it.

Our children are told what to do all day, every day. It’s the struggle of being a kid; everyone who isn’t a kid can potentially be in charge of you.

As parents if we sincerely ask our children to complete a chore and explain that we really need their help, most kids will happily oblige because it is their nature to want to please us parents.

When they do help, be sure to model for them the manners that you expect them to use. Tell them thank you and show appreciation. The positive words that you use will motivate them to continue to help, hopefully without you asking.



Allow kids to choose a deadline: Give your child a list of chores and allow them to tell you what time they think they will have the chores completed by.

Allow them to give you some input about what consequences should be used if they don’t finish in time. Ensure that the timeline is realistic and let your kid have some autonomy to manage their own time and task list. If it’s completed on time, reward your young adult in training.

If they didn’t complete the task, it is important to follow through with the agreed upon consequence. Have a discussion to help your kid problem solve how to better manage their time and chores in the future.

Remind them that the goal is for them to demonstrate their ability to be responsible at home to allow for increase independence and freedom.


Cicely Faulkner-Truitt, a training consultant with Boys Town, wrote this guest blog for

Cicely has worked in behavioral health and human services for the past 10 years. The Missouri native is a mother to rascally 9-year-old son Jeremiah.


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