10 Ways to Motivate Your Teens to Love Chores


There are probably very few teenagers that actually love doing chores. As parents, we’ve heard the complaining, the grumbling, the muttering. You’ve probably also see your teenager dodge your gaze as they hurry from a room, sure that if they just slip away fast enough, you won’t be able to ask them to mop the kitchen or vacuum their room.

It’s important for a teenager to help out around the house. Working together as a family build relationships, and requiring a teenager to put some elbow grease into the place where they live gives them a sense of stewardship over that home. It also teaches them valuable skills that they will need as they go to college or move out to make their own way in the world. Still, even though you know this and your teen might even know it, they would probably rather play video games, hang out with friends or read than do chores. Here are ten ways to motivate your teens to love chores (and if not love, at least do).

1. Make it less of a chore and more of a responsibility.

Teenagers want to feel valued. As they are ascending from childhood into adulthood, they often feel as if their thoughts and opinions are not as valued as those of their adult counterparts. They do not feel important. When a chore is a responsibility and not just some menial task, it can actually help your teen feel more important. Helping them understand how that task improves their lives and lives of the family is a good way to do this.

2. Give them some options.

This doesn’t mean that you should let them cherry pick their chores and leave the hardest and most time-consuming ones for the other kids or for you to do. It does mean, however, that giving them a say in what they do, or, at least, when they do it, can motivate them to actually get it done.

3. Give your teen total stewardship over the task.

For example, if you want your teenager to clean the bathroom, why not also let them decide how that bathroom is decorated? If you want them to cook dinner one night a week, let them choose exactly what they want to make and arrange a special shopping trip to get the ingredients they need. This sort of stewardship makes them feel like they are valued and that they have control, even if it is just over this small task.

4. Have them deal with the consequences of failing to do that chore.

Right now, as teenagers, in the controlled environment of the home, is the best place to learn that actions have consequences and that you will not always be able to clean up after them. If they fail to do a chore, their new chore is to deal with the consequences of that failure, on top of still getting that original chore done.

5. Help your teen stay organized. Most teenagers have a lot going on.

They are juggling school and extracurricular activities, on top of community activities and having a social life. While it might sound trivial in comparison to the circus that is being a parent, they are still learning. Don’t be afraid to help them remember the task that they have to do. Help them establish the routine and stick to that routine.

6. Make sure you give them a chore they are actually capable of doing.

If your child has band practice from six pm until nine pm on Tuesdays and Thursdays and then has to come home and do an hour of homework, neither of this nights are a good time to force him to also do a long and complex chore.

7. Provide an incentive for completing that chore.

This doesn’t mean that you have to give your teen a gold star every time they do something they are supposed to do. Even just telling them that you appreciate their hard work and their willingness to pitch in around the house can be enough for some teens. When they realize that their contribution is valuable and that it is helping to build trust between the two of you, they are more likely to be willing to do another chore.

8. Make it fun.

Not everything has to be fun, but even a menial task can be made better by simply putting on some music. Make the daily or weekly chore routine into a competition. Create a time limit (only if this will enhance the fun factor and not just put more unnecessary pressure on your teen).  This will help change your children’s mindset, and motivate your teens to love chores.

9. Help them out.

Especially when it comes to big tasks, don’t be afraid to give them a little kick start. Say, for example, that their room is a disaster area. Most teens avoid cleaning their rooms not because they like to live in squalor, but because it is a big job. Asking if they want you to help them start the task, and then leaving them to it is sometimes an effective way to motivate your teens to love chores.

10. Don’t over incentivize the chores.

We’ve all had that friend that could not come out on Friday night because they didn’t vacuum after dinner on Tuesday night. While you should decide what is and what is not a proper incentive for doing chores in your household, cutting your child off from his social life, devices, or other privileges because he skipped one small chore or made one small mistake might be too harsh.