Tips for Keeping Teens on Track with Chores

Organizing Chore Charts for Teens

teenage boy washing dishes
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For younger children, having a chore chart can help them be more responsible and learn how to take care of their things as well as pitch in to help the family. But teenagers may balk at the idea of having a list of duties, since their social lives and outside-the-home responsibilities increase the older they get. But this is when they need help with organization more than ever, and just because they're on the basketball team or in the school play doesn't mean they can't make their own bed or walk the dog.

Expectations for how much teens will do around the house should be spelled out clearly, and adjusted to be reasonable when warranted. For instance, if they're studying for the SAT exam, they might get a reprieve from taking out the garbage for a week or two.

Here are some ways to keep your teen on track with his chores at home, which also can be used to organize his school responsibilities and extracurricular activities as well.

First, make sure there are incentives built in to keep your teen motivated. Re-emphasize that privileges are contingent on their chores being done and responsibilities being met. The privilege of going to the movies on Friday night with friends, for instance, won't happen if chores remain unfinished. 

Place an immediate and quick consequence for not completing the chore and marking the chart. Bed not made? No internet time until it is. Vacuuming not done? Forget about playing video games until that rug is clean.

And if there's a chore that your teen has to be reminded to do repeatedly, it may be time to up the consequences for longer periods of time. 

If your teen does a particularly good job at one of his chores, or goes above and beyond at getting them done on time, be sure there is some additional reward built in.

They don't need a pat on the back for doing the basic requirements, but it's a good idea to acknowledge extra effort. 

Be sure your teen has everything they need to complete their chores and knows where supplies are stored in case something runs out. 

Strive to be consistent when giving chores, responsibilities, privileges and consequences. But don't be inflexible: Everyone needs a break or a little special consideration now and again. That might mean a day off from mowing the lawn when someone offers your teen tickets to a game. As long as you're not giving rewards for failing to complete work, and other factors like schoolwork and behavior are in line, it's OK to work with your teen on a case-by-case basis.

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