Parent's Guide to Teenagers and Chores

It's important to give teens chores.
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Getting teens to do household chores can be no easy task. And it's no wonder why. Chatting with friends on social media is more fun than washing the dishes and sports practices often take precedence over a clean bedroom.

The struggle to get kids to do chores raises many questions for parents about the importance of chores and how to get teens to do them. 

Should Teens Really Have to Do Chores?

There are several reasons why it’s important to give teens chores.

Regular tasks teach responsibility and help prepare teens for the adult world.

Chores also teach valuable life skills. Not only will a teen learn how to do the laundry, but he’s also likely to learn about the importance of pitching in and helping out.

Sometimes parents don’t think teens should do chores because they already do homework. But learning how to manage time and do tasks when they feel tired can help prepare teens for the realities of adulthood.

Even a teen who has a part-time job shouldn’t be exempt from all chores. After all, most adults still have to do housework after putting in a full day of work.

What Chores are Appropriate?

It’s healthy for teens to do a variety of chores so they can learn about various household responsibilities. Request that your teen clean her room and pick up after herself. Additionally, give her specific tasks to do, like vacuuming, or specific rooms to clean, such as the bathroom.

Chores can also be a good way to teach teens about regular household and vehicle maintenance. Yard work, washing the car, painting, and simple repairs teach basic life skills and help your teen understand the responsibilities associated with living independently.

Should I Pay My Teen for Chores?

Your decision about whether to pay your teen for chores should be based on your values and the values you want to teach your teen.

Some parents believe helping out is something teens need to do simply because they’re part of the family.

Other parents believe teens should be compensated for their work as a way to begin teaching them about what it’s like to be in the working world.

Consider expecting your teen to do certain tasks, like picking up after himself, for free. But pay him for extra jobs, like cleaning the garage or mowing the lawn.

If you do pay your teen, don’t hand over extravagant amounts of money. Simply increase the amount of items your teen is responsible to purchase on her own.

For example, reduce the amount you spend on your teen’s school clothes or limit how much spending money you hand over. This will give your teen the added responsibility of learning how to manage her money wisely as you proactively teach your teen about budgeting.

What if My Teen Won’t Do Chores?

If your teen won't do her chores, don't nag her to do them. Avoid getting into a power struggle as well.

Those interventions will make your teen more dependent on you for reminders or motivation. And the goal is to help your teen become more independent.

Make your teen's responsibilities clear. And expect your teen to follow through with her chores.

When your teen doesn't do her chores according to the timelines you've set, give her a negative consequence. That may mean she doesn't earn an allowance or that she loses all of her privileges until her chores get done. 

Hold frequent conversations with your teen about what a supervisor would expect from a worker. For example, if your teen had a job, what would likely happen if she didn’t perform her duties?

Allow your teen to make mistakes and then use those mistakes as an opportunity for your teen to learn how to do better next time. 

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