Do more with your childern, not for them

Children, from 6 to 8 years of age, are at a major transition point.  They are now in school full-time and feeling really grown up. They have developed the strength and physical dexterity to handle more tedious and detailed tasks. At the same time, they still have relatively short attention spans and are likely to get bored very easily.

During this period, they are capable of being very helpful around the house. However, it will have to be fun or they will not want to do it, and you will both be frustrated and resentful.

Teach them Life Skills

It will likely take a lot of patience and energy to keep them motivated. Learning new skills will require a lot of side-by-side coaching.

Here are some fun ideas that will get the work done quickly, but also teach them life skills.

Treasure Hunt —Use a series of chores and notes to lead children to a final treasure.  For example, the first note says to empty the dishwasher.  Doing that, the child finds another note telling him to dust the living room.  There he finds a note on an end table telling him to empty the bathroom trash.  On the bottom of the can is a final note, in an envelope, with a dollar bill enclosed to buy a treat or to put in his piggy bank.

Money Surprise—Occasionally put a dollar bill on the bottom of a game or shoe that has been in the middle of the room for some time.  Whoever finally picks it up and puts it away gets the money.

Smiley Faces—Draw a smiley face on the palm of your child’s hand when he has to do something especially hard.  No one else can see it, but he can look at it and know he is well loved and you’re with him in your thoughts.

Doorman—Arm a child with a spray bottle of nontoxic all-purpose cleaner and a clean cloth.  Send him around the house to attack all door jams, the walls around doors and switch plates

Knock-Knock, Who’s There?—Payment for a job or service can be sharing a new joke or riddle.  Our kids love knock-knock jokes, and so it’s always a treat to learn a new one.  It can also be an incentive to let them tell you a new joke each time a task is done quickly and correctly.

Voice Mail—Leave instructions on a tape recorder for after school chores.  Kids like to hear the sound of your voice, especially when it also says, “I love you.  There is a snack in the fridge.”

Photo Finish—Occasionally take a photo of an especially hard worker doing an especially good job.  Post the photo on the fridge in recognition of a “job well done.”

Secret Pals—Draw names to be Secret Pals (or Helpful Elves for smaller children) to each other for a week, similar to the elves that helped the little old shoemaker.  It is always more fun to make someone else’s bed, especially if someone might be surprised.

Follow the String—Leave a string throughout the house that leads to a “treasure.”  After chores are done, the children follow the string to the reward.

Coin Tosses—If there are two or more children; flip a coin to see who does the task.  Or, assign different jobs to each side of the coin—if it’s heads, do the bath, if tails do the family room.  For fun variation, if its heads, everyone picks up something to the left, if its tails, everyone picks up something to the right.  This version takes longer, but with everyone running in circles, it’s more fun.

Title on the Door—Use fun job titles to create a sense of ownership in jobs—i.e. the Filing Clerk clips and organizes coupons from newspapers; the Handyman makes simple repairs; the Storage Manager puts groceries away and straightens cupboards; the Pearl Diver does the dishes; and the Lucky Duck gets the day off.

Bear-y Nice—Dress up a large stuffed animal as a “traveling trophy” to be given to the cleanest bedroom in the house.  Award it at Family Council.

Awards Night—Award blue ribbons or homemade trophies during Family Council for outstanding work habits. Announce the categories and the parameters of the contest ahead of time so the kids will know what they are aiming for. For instance, give awards for the most organized dresser drawers, most socks folded, most toys picked up before the buzzer, most willing worker, etc.

If you would like to know what are reasonable expectations as well chore charts for children 6-8 years old, in the primary grades, you will want to check out   This popular book and teleclass was created by Judy H. Wright aka Auntie Artichoke, the story telling trainer.  As a family relationship coach she has developed a number of items that are helpful to families.  You can find them at


Get Kids Helping at Home