Teaching Teens Household Responsibility

With kids in the house, having a living room that looks like a twister just hit it is a common phenomenon. But when those kids are teens, any attempts to get them to pitch in and clean up can lead to a severe battle of wills. Teens are undoubtedly old enough to make contributions to household upkeep. How can you teach them to share the load without resorting to nagging? Here the parents of Parent Soup share their best tips for getting the kids to get to work without a fight.

"My daughter is 14 and we have a chore chart that I made on the computer. She has to mark her chores off every day. She has to do this before she talks on the phone or watches TV. When the chores are on paper she feels like she has accomplished a lot when she looks over the paper and sees all the check marks as completed tasks. It has made a world of difference in our house."

"Both my kids have certain chores to do before they get their allowance. My 14-year-old daughter must clean her room (really well!) once a week and clean her bathroom and do her laundry. She also cooks dinner once a week. She or my son (who is 11) can earn extra money by doing extra chores Money is a great motivator and cheaper than a cleaning lady."

"I have really been feeling that I have been left holding the bag as far as housecleaning around here. I have a 17-year-old and a 20-year-old (both daughters). I finally had had it one day and I sat down at the computer and made a chore list of the things that I wanted them to take care of each week. It came down to six items each, if they split it 50-50. I then printed it up and told them that it was their mutual responsibility to get these chores done. They must all be done by the end of the week, with nothing said by me. If all the chores are not done by the end of the week, there are no extra curricular activities or phone privileges until the next week's list is completely done. That's the incentive plan. We've been doing it for two weeks now, and so far so good. And I must say, my attitude is much better. Sometimes they get caught up in thinking that everything in their life is so incredibly important--but the family is a priority, and we are now stressing that the family has to be just as important as the other facets of their life. I think this gives more perspective on their view of life in general."


"Another key to a successful clean house is when my teen daughters' friends are here I expect them to clean up after themselves just as if they were my kids. We always have a house full of teenagers and they are always willing to do their part."

"I once read that as your child matures they want their independence. So you can tell them to do the dishes, but they want to be able to do it when they can fit it into their day. My 14-year-old doesn't do well with, 'Do it now!' Last week when I was at work she was supposed to sweep and mop. She did it at her own pace, as well as oiled the cupboards, changed the foil on the burners, cleaned the glass oven door and the microwave door, and did the dishes. Three hours she said she worked. So I try not to tell her to do things now."

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