Parenting Teens Contracts: Teen Chores

A chore contract can the be the key to getting your teen to do chores on time.
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Most teens would prefer to do just about anything other than chores. So quite often, they delay getting their rooms cleaned or mowing the lawn, for as long as humanly possible.

For parents, it can be infuriating to see a teen watching TV or playing video games as he insists he'll do his chores 'later.' And that's what leads to arguments in many families as parents insist teens take care of business 'right now.' But chores are an essential part of teaching teens responsibility.

How to Create a Chore Contract

Rather than battle with your teen to do chores, create a clear written contract. A chore contract eliminates any confusion and makes your expectations crystal clear.

When your teen signs a contract he won't be able to insist he 'didn't know' you meant he had to clean the garage. Instead, he'll know for sure what you were expecting. 

Outline which chores you expect your teen to do daily and which ones are weekly. Then, outline what will happen if your teen completes those chores, as well as the consequences for not completing them on time. 

The point of a chore contract should be to help your teen become more responsible. When he's signed the contract, and you've made your expectations clear, don't nag him or remind him to get his work done. Instead, follow through with the consequences that you've outlined. 

Sample Chore Contract

Fill in the chores you want your teen to complete

  1. I will keep my own areas picked up. This includes putting laundry in the hamper, hanging clean clothes in closet, and putting books, sports equipment, and electronics in their appropriate spaces.
  2. I will keep my parents in the loop when a chore has become too complicated for me. If I can't do lift something because it's too heavy or I'm not sure how to do something safely, I'll tell you.
  1. I will take pride in my work so that the tasks or chores I have to do will be done to the best of my ability.
  2. I understand it's up to me to get my chores done on time. I won't expect you to remind me when to do them. 
  3. I will talk to you if I'm having difficulty finding time to do my chores because of my homework or other responsibilities. 
  4. My daily chores include picking up my room, emptying the dishwasher, and sweeping the kitchen floor.
  5. My weekly chores include mowing the lawn, cleaning the bathroom, and sweeping the garage.

Consequences for Chores

There should be positive consequences for getting chores done. A positive consequence might involve an allowance or privileges, such as spending time with friends. 

You can offer daily positive consequences, such as letting your teen use his electronics when his chores are done. Then, it's up to him to decide when he wants to do the work.

Or, you can offer a weekly reward. That might include visiting with friends on Friday night if he's done his chores all week, or it might involve earning an allowance for getting his work done by Saturday at noon.

If your teen is having trouble getting his chores done, take away his privileges. For example, tell him if he can't be responsible enough to put his laundry away, you're not going to trust him with the keys to the car. Or, tell him he can't go out with friends until he mows the lawn. 

Updated by Amy Morin, LCSW.

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