Ways to Help My Family

Kids Chore Charts
I’ve been trying to figure out a way to encourage B (3 years old) to help out around the house without making it a requirement. Six months ago I’d ask B “Do you want to fill up Max’s water bowl for me?” “Ok, sure!”. Now I get “No thanks, you can do it.”. So we brainstormed “Ways to Help My Family.”
ways to help my family
Together we brainstormed ways he could help his family and we made a list.  I told him he could put an X (he changed that to a circle) each time he helps with one of these things and when the whole page is filled up he could pick something fun to do (park, lunch date, game, etc.).
Well, it didn’t work! Sometimes he is all about helping out, but the other times he really isn’t interested even with the incentives. Today I said, “B, do you want to feed Max for me and then you can cross it off on your chart?”. He responded with, “No, I already crossed that off the other day so you can just do it.”.
Any suggestions?
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  • Reply MaryAnne

    I think three is too young for this large of a chart. Some 3yos will respond to instant rewards (you could pick tiny prizes), while others won’t understand the reward system until they are older. I know that my 4yo can only handle a 4-space chart, and a friend who specializes in early childhood education was surprised she could delay gratification that long.

    May 20, 2010 at 12:09 pm
  • Reply alicia

    This chart is great. I know that you have young children, but would you ever consider some older children type activities/suggestions. I have an 8 and 10 year old and could really use some ideas for summer. ??

    May 20, 2010 at 12:38 pm
  • Reply Amanda

    Your blog is so much fun 🙂 My mom found it a few weeks ago.. and I added it to my sidebar, and actually did a post about your blog telling people to check it out!…lol… I like that it is so “cut and dry” and specific as to what you are trying to accomplish through your blog… fun ideas! My thoughts on the chart…?.. I have 3 boys, 5 years, almost 3, and 5 months…and I can tell you… the 5 year old is so “incentive” and “chart” driven, it’s rediculous… lol.. he would’ve had that chart filled by the end of the day just LOOKING for ways to help…. that’s just how he is! Now, the 2 year old on the other hand, could care less… lol.. and I don’t think it’s his age.. he’s just not “chart-minded”.. 🙂 So, maybe it’s not his age, but that he doesn’t like charts…(I haven’t read your full blog to see how many kids you have or anything)..maybe you’ve talked about it before.. but, anyways! So, I guess I DON’T have any other suggestions…lol… BUT.. if you find one.. let us know! haha… Love your blog though….Good job!

    May 20, 2010 at 1:02 pm
  • Reply Funky Mama Bird

    I read something interesting the other day on a pediatric specialists site. Basically you shouldn’t ask young children if they’d like to do something, you should just tell them to. Apparently, by asking them and making it a “choice” they start to push at boundaries, wondering where they are. So even if they WANT to say yes, they’ll say not just to see what you do.

    I am terrible about this. I ask all the time, are you ready for lunch? Should we change your diaper? And I’ve been getting a lot of NO!’s lately, so I’ve been trying hard to switch it up.

    So now it’s, It’s time for lunch! Do you want X or Y? And at the end of the day instead of, Can you help pick up your blocks? It’s It’s time for bed, let’s pick up your blocks.

    So maybe, just ask him to fill the water bowl by saying, “please fill the bowl” rather than, “would you like to” it might work!

    May 20, 2010 at 1:07 pm
  • Reply Mommy B

    I think the chart is great. For a child that young, though, I would probably let them fill it up on their own terms. Once they fill it up they can get a special prize, or lunch out with mom, or something fun they want to do. Maybe there are too many “chores” on the chart for a 3 y/o. I would maybe do just a few at a time and then change them up so they don’t get bored.

    May 20, 2010 at 1:45 pm
  • Reply Anonymous

    go to

    3 chores each day.
    you could also do a chore jar–and child picks one or two a day and at the end of the week–pick a prize from the prize jar/box (extra snuggles, 5 min extra till bedtime, baking w/mommy, going to park with daddy, a penny, etc)
    a big part of it is consistency on your part (with flexibility built in) and saying not asking.
    really like your site!–stacey

    May 20, 2010 at 3:05 pm
  • Reply Tina

    I did something similar for my 3 and 5 year olds…called a “helpful chart”. It was a piece of paper with 20 colored squares, and I bought a bunch of fun stickers (Scooby, Sponge Bob, Batman, Bakugan, Mickey Mouse). Whenever they do anything helpful, they get to pick a sticker and when it is full they get to pick a fun family activity (bowling, swimming, park, etc) their choice. The good thing was…sometimes I would just “catch” them doing something helpful like putting their dish in the sink or sharing a toy, I would make a big deal out of it, praise them and tell them to go get a sticker. Other times I would ask them to do something and remind them it was “helpful”. The thing that made it so successful was me “catching them being helpful”. They loved it.

    May 20, 2010 at 3:24 pm
  • Reply Shannon

    Obviously every child is different, but I agree with what Funky Mama Bird said about not _asking_ your 3 y/o child if they want to do a chore.

    One thing that has helped us a lot around here is working Sweet Pea’s chores into part of our every day routine. So for example, as soon as she is done eating, she is required to carry her plate to the sink. At first we would just say, “Big girls get to clear their own place.” Now it is just a habit for her to pick up the plate and carry it to the sink.

    We do the same thing with putting away books. After I read a story to her, I hand her the book and she now knows to immediately go put it away.

    You could do the same sort of thing with feeding the dog. Say something like, “As soon as you feed Max, we’ll have breakfast.”

    May 20, 2010 at 4:01 pm
  • Reply Anonymous

    i love that you think aloud for us all to see the work in progress. i love the thought behind this. i don’t have any suggestions, just wanted to say, “i’m there too.” i have 3 boys and each day is a new day and i learn things about them and what makes them tick all the time. who responds to what. we’ve started asking them to help out more around the house but there’s no, “do you want to”, it’s “come pick out the plates for you and brother to eat on for supper.” the other one does the silverware. so they are beginning to learn how to set the table. i’m very proud of this. most moms do a ton more but every baby step counts, in my book.

    May 20, 2010 at 4:25 pm
  • Reply danita

    i agree with the other comments–put less chores on the chart (maybe 3 chores because he is 3?, put less spaces til he gets a reward and ask “do you want to pick up books or fill up the water bowl now?” i also like the chore jar idea. i’ve heard of some people putting fun stuff in there too, like get a kiss from mom or swap chore for your favorite chore, etc. stuff like that!

    May 20, 2010 at 5:14 pm
  • Reply The Activity Mom

    Thanks so much for the advice and ideas everyone! I think you are absolutely right! I won’t give up yet then =).

    @alicia, yes I’ll start brainstorming for older kids and let you know.

    May 20, 2010 at 5:25 pm
  • Reply Jenn @ Delicious Ambiguity

    I gave you an award! Stop by and check it out!

    May 20, 2010 at 9:26 pm
  • Reply The girl who painted trees

    Like some others said, don’t ask, just tell. Make it part of the routine. Use “when..then…” sentences (follow the when by what it is you want him to do) and also give two choices. At first, Bear wouldn’t consistently clear the table. Some days she would and others she wouldn’t. So on days she really didn’t want to do it, she would have a choice between bringing the bowl or the cup to the sink. She usually then ended up bringing both. Might not work for all kids though.

    May 21, 2010 at 12:57 am
  • Reply Lynette

    I never say, “Do you want to [fill in the blank].” It doesn’t work and it will never work. If I want my kids (ages 6,5, and almost-4) to help me out — really help me out — then I don’t ask, I’ll say something like, “Let’s pick up the toys, it’s almost time for dinner.” They know they won’t get dinner (or lunch or a trip to the park) unless they do what I’ve told them to do. It’s like saying, “Do you want to go in time-out?” Why ask? They will always say no!! 🙂 🙂

    May 21, 2010 at 5:02 am
  • Reply Jess

    Hi stopping by from the Mommy Loop, I dont really have a suggestion since Im in the same boat ss you right now. I’m just glad to know I’m not the only one who’s kids arent motivated by incentive charts. My daughter just looks at me and says that alright i dont want anything you can do it. can you believe the nerve of these kids! It would be funny if it wasnt so frustrating.

    May 21, 2010 at 7:12 pm
  • Reply Sela

    Lovin all the comments!
    With my daughter, who is 3, it’s all about stickers. She had 6 things on her chart, which I change up when she finishes one chart. Then she gets to put a sticker on the chart when she does it. She also gets one sticker for her shirt per day, usually when we do the first sticker for her chart. When her chart’s all full, she gets to pick a new toy.
    That’s what’s currently working for us. Good luck!
    Go to to see what we did 🙂

    May 21, 2010 at 10:46 pm
  • Reply Heather

    Sounds like my boy! If I make it a race and set the timer he is more willing to help out!

    Following from Mom Loop!
    come see me too when you have a chance!

    May 22, 2010 at 12:50 am
  • Reply MaggieK

    Even at 5 we have that problem with Brady and Star / activity charts. Now he will be all about it for a few days – maybe a week and then we see it go downhill from there.

    Smaller more immediate *reward* may work better (like if you do three things you can pick something special for dinner or a special book tv show / activity before bed).

    May 22, 2010 at 4:12 am
  • Reply Karla

    Reading your post, I thought the chart was a great idea. The one thing that kept sticking out to me was you saying you ASK your son if he wants to do such and such. Well, I myself have learned not to ask…it gives them too much opportunity to say “no”! Ha ha! I only ask when I truly am giving them a choice. Most of the time I just tell them that it’s time to do such and such. I hear my husband “ask” the children if they want to to whatever it is he wants them to do at the time, and hearing someone else ask, I can hear how it sounds to the child. He wants them to do it, but because he asked them, they think there’s a choice in there, when he doesn’t intend for there to be. He’s trying to “be nice” I think, but I think it tends to create confusion for the child when he “asks” rather than simply state. I do notice that he gets much quicker and direct results when he tells them he wants them to do something rather than asks if they would like to do something. Perhaps you might see if directly telling him to do something would get him to help more often, and only ASK him when he truly are giving him the option to say ‘no”? It’ll all work out. 3 is a bit of an independent age, and I think your son just likes having the option to say “no”. 🙂

    June 12, 2011 at 4:34 pm
  • Reply Anonymous

    We got a magnet chart for my 3 year old at Christmas this year. It has 10 lines on it and you can get a magnet each day of the week. He has things like set the table, feed the dog, brush your teeth, say please / thank you and no hitting on it so they are not all jobs. We have not had an issue yet with him doing his jobs. Last week he was short 6 magnets for the week (out of 70) We told him if he can get it full then he could pick a fun day 😉

    January 11, 2012 at 3:03 am
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