Parent's Guide to Teenagers and Chores

Teenager doing chores
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Getting teenagers to do chores is not an easy task. Many parents find themselves nagging, arguing and complaining about their child’s lack of work ethic. The struggle to get teens to do chores causes many parents to wonder if it's really worth the effort.

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 even when they’re 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.

If you do pay your teen, you don’t need to hand over extravagant amounts of money. In fact, you can 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?

It’s important to avoid nagging or getting into power struggles with your teen over chores. Otherwise, you’ll inadvertently keep your teen dependent on you, rather than increasing her independence. Once you’ve made it clear what your expectations are about chores, leave it up to your teen to follow through with doing them.

If chores don’t get done, there needs to be a negative consequence. That may mean your teen doesn’t earn any allowance. Or it may mean that your teen loses privileges until the chores get done. For example, don’t allow your teen to go out with friends until all the chores are done. Or take away electronics for the day if your teen didn’t get the chores done on time.

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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