5 Tips for When Your Kid Refuses to Do Chores

By Kara Reynolds | Apr 2, 2021

You know that your child should do chores to learn personal responsibility and contribute to the family unit. Guess what? Such abstract concepts mean nothing to young minds — all they can see is that video games are fun, but picking up their room is not. 

Many children are generally cooperative, but it’s also natural for them to assert their independence. What can you do when your kid refuses to do chores? Here are five tips that won’t leave you feeling guilty. 

1. Switch to a Commission System 

Do you give your children the same allowance week after week, regardless of their performance or behavior? If so, you aren’t a bad parent — but you are missing out on a valuable opportunity to teach your children the value of their labor. 

Instead of giving your kids a weekly stipend independent of their efforts, switch to a commission-based task system. You’ll need to make a chore chart that outlines various things that need to be done around the house while assigning a dollar value to each. Picking up their toys might only net $.25, but scrubbing the toilet earns them $5. 

Take the lesson a step further by remaining open to salary negotiations. If your kid says, “I should get $20 for mowing a full acre,” consider their request. Why not have them create a PowerPoint explaining why? After all, someday, your child will need to learn to advocate for themselves in the workplace — what better time than the present? 

2. Tie Chores to Privileges

You want to ensure your child has the basics, such as a bagged lunch or money for a hot one in the school cafeteria. However, no rule says that they have to have that new video game or even a candy bar every time you head to the grocery store. 

This hint comes in handy if you are on a shoestring budget and can’t always reward your child financially for their efforts. Do they want to stay up an hour later to watch a live broadcast from one of their favorite artists? They can earn that privilege by completing their assigned tasks on time and without complaint. 

3. Maintain a Cool Head 

Sometimes, your kid will refuse to do chores with an emphatic “no.” If this happens while they’re young, getting down to eye level and starting to perform the task with them can do the trick. 

You also have to learn how to pick your battles as a parent. Remember, nothing excuses losing your temper in exasperation and saying something hurtful, like calling your child lazy. Such labels tend to stick and become an unwanted part of their self-image. 

Instead of becoming livid, walk away and do some breathing exercises if you must calm your head. Then, get clever, even a bit snarky with your responses. 

For example, if your kiddo says, “I’ll do it in a minute,” respond with, “Okay, I’ll set a timer,” and do so. When your child hears it go off, it’s time to get to work. If they say that they’ll take out the trash later, ask them to choose a time — and hold them to it. 

4. Listen to Their Objections 

One thing you should avoid at all costs is invalidating your child’s feelings unless you want to set them up for future mental health woes. For example, if your kid confesses that they don’t want to mow the lawn because the mower is too heavy, and they’re afraid they’ll get hurt, please don’t crack wise about them being a wimp. They have a legitimate concern — find an alternate task that they can handle. 

This advice doesn’t mean that you should accept any excuse. If your child always claims they don’t feel well when chore-time arrives, for example, tell them that you have to take them to the doctor for testing. If they’re faking it, the threat of needles often gets them moving, and if they aren’t, you have to discover the underlying cause of their distress. 

5. Embrace Natural Consequences 

It’s one thing if your child forgets their lunch — you don’t want them to go hungry. However, will one missed homework assignment mean that they don’t get into the college of their choice? Probably not. 

Younger children need more guidance, but older ones sometimes learn best from natural consequences. Did your child repeatedly refuse to clean out their backpack, and now they can’t find the field trip permission slip you already signed? It’s your call — but letting them sit one out can teach them more than contacting their teacher and requesting a new one at the last minute. 

Try These Tips When Your Child Refuses to Do Chores

If your kid refuses to do chores, you can feel frustrated beyond belief. Instead of letting your ire show, use the above tips to guide them. 

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