What do you think teenagers should work for

Children and housework: suitable tasks and the right motivation

At a glance: Can children take on small or even larger household chores? If so, at what age? Here are tips about children and housework.

In the past, the housewife was responsible for the household and was even legally obliged to look after it within a marriage. Working outside the home was not an issue for many women (at least until the 1970s). The housework was time-consuming because the first household appliances were only slowly coming onto the market. Today we have a lot of electrical helpers, but we also have the following:


More housework than before

  • More about cleaning: Larger houses and apartments that need cleaning.
  • More laundry: Laundry that is washed significantly more often.
  • Job: A job or a career that we want to take care of.
  • Family: Children who also need a lot of attention.

So it is clear that not everything runs like clockwork, especially when some things change in life, for example when a child comes.

Depending on the age of the children, they can and should take on the first household chores. There is even a legal basis for it. Section 1619 of the BGB regulates that children are obliged to provide services to their parents. This article shows how this can be implemented in practice.

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Children help in the household

What's the point anyway?

The advantages and disadvantages of having children helping around the house:


  • Support: You have additional help.
  • Learning effect: When children do their own cleaning, they make less mess because they have developed an awareness of how much work that creates.
  • Fun: Doing the household chores together is just more fun.


  • Time required: At the beginning everything takes longer.
  • Rework necessary: Housework done by children cannot be corrected every time because it has a demotivating effect. Therefore, some things are not as clean as desired at first.
  • Motivation needed: You have to keep motivating the child. Sometimes this takes longer than doing it yourself.

Motivate children properly

The most important thing is to give children a positive impression of everything related to housework! Incidentally, this also helps you have more fun yourself. And a household that runs like clockwork is fun! The following sentences are now taboo:

Not like that

  • "Oh no, cleaning day again!"
  • "I always have to clear everything after you!"
  • “Always this cleaning!”
  • "Housework sucks ..."

Instead, we focus on what is positive about the housework, namely the result (apart from the fact that some work can be almost meditative):

Better this way

  • "How nice it all looks now again!"
  • "I love it when the house shines like this!"
  • "This is how our home shows itself from its most beautiful side!"

Good to know: Children always imitate their parents! Your child doesn't really need motivation to help, only opportunities to do so!

Early involvement in housework

Small children are curious and want to do everything mom and dad do too. This can be used wonderfully to involve them at an early stage. You can let them decide for themselves where, when and with what they want to help. If your child wants to use the vacuum cleaner, do not slow them down and convey to them that they cannot do this, but support them in their actions. This confirmation also develops healthy self-confidence. Then your child will naturally feel like helping with other household chores.

Always work together with your child, include them on the side and only let them do what they want by themselves. You have to be careful not to overwhelm your child and ask for more than they can give. The praise, which encourages your child in their tasks, also plays a major role here.

When my son was still in kindergarten, he always helped me clean up the dust. Every time before I wanted to clean his room, I asked him to take the cleaning cloth and help me.

Every child needs their time

Small children take longer to complete the tasks. They still have a lot to play with. Even when asked for a tidy room, it can take longer for younger children because they first have to let go of their game. Every age therefore needs its own rhythm and you should adapt to the rhythm of your child instead of spreading hectic and urging them to clean up immediately.

With young children, you can support this by setting a good example and helping your child.

The tasks grow with age. You should always keep an eye on not overburdening the child. Also consider whether the tasks can be integrated into the child's everyday life. If your child has a long day of school, homework, study, and leisure activities, they may not still find the motivation to clean the room that day.

Establish rules and provide explanations

The room is always cleaned on Fridays. Every week, without exceptions. The process is always the same: First he wipes the dust, then it's my turn with the rest. Children quickly learn to appreciate having a clean and not cluttered children's room. It plays a lot better after mucking out.

In the case of a school child, it can be helpful to explain that dust is harmful to health. B. can lead to lung disease. My son was very impressed with my arguments and his eagerness to clean increased immediately.

Good teachers are tolerant and patient

A cloud of dust in the room because the cleaning cloth is too dry? A puddle on the floor because the child (again) forgot to wring out the cloth? Just stay calm and spare your nerves. The most important thing - he tried! It goes without saying that you should patiently explain once more that the cloth should be damp, but not too wet. Children who are allowed to help around the house develop good self-confidence. They want to help by themselves, and if they are actually allowed to do it, they have great success stories, they feel “great” and valued.

Promote, challenge and reward

I explained the cleaning technique to my son: Don't wipe around the toys and books, but pick up all objects and clean them under them. A child doesn't necessarily think of this by itself. But, once explained, I expect dust to be always wiped that way. I was particularly happy when my son perfected the workflow and put all the items (notebook, textbooks, etc.) from his desk on his couch so that he had a free hand when dusting. In addition, a second phase has been introduced and dries all surfaces with the kitchen towel. There was an extra visit to the cinema for these improvements and independent thinking - initiatives must be encouraged. Here you will find useful gifts for children.

Communication and planning

Talk to your children and try to figure out which household chores they might even feel like doing on their own initiative. Show your children that they are making an important contribution - that too can be immensely motivating. Perhaps you will sit down with the whole family on specific, pre-determined dates after dinner and discuss who will do which tasks in the coming week.

Writing down these tasks can only be beneficial for everyone involved. This reduces the risk that something will be forgotten or that there will be a dispute. You can find a daily cleaning schedule with tasks for the whole family as well as a practical checklist for weeks and days in my checklist package: Cleaning. Just download and start right away. I don't want to do without this huge help in effectively organizing the housework myself.

Distribution of tasks according to age

Chores for an elementary school child

Primary school children can cope with various tasks without any problems. This includes tidying up your own room, setting the table, collecting dirty laundry, looking after a pet, taking out the rubbish or emptying the mailbox. The child can also be involved in cleaning and do smaller tasks with you, such as wiping down a table or shelf. In elementary school you can set up a weekly schedule that can be integrated into everyday life. If the child fulfills his or her tasks, praise points or stars can be given out. The household fairy checklists will help you with this. You can agree whether there will be a surprise given a certain number. Elementary school children can be very well motivated with such a system.

Tasks for young people

Teenagers can hardly be motivated with such a reward system. At their age, the tasks should already be part of their flesh and blood. Of course, especially during puberty, there are always big discussions. But: Young people can help with cooking or baking, sometimes take care of younger siblings or do the laundry. If they contribute well and take the initiative from time to time when something has to be done, then there can be a little more pocket money. In principle, however, children should not be paid for housework.

Parents should turn a blind eye to the chaos in the youth room. Every now and then, point out to your teen that you will do the laundry when it's in the laundry basket. Avoid tidying up yourself, however, and tolerate the clutter in the room as long as your teen is involved in the rest of the household.

If your kids don't want to help and strictly refuse, you should talk to them. Explain to them that you are a community and that you are not solely responsible for doing all of the tasks. They too bring in dirt from outside, consume laundry and use dishes. If your children still do not participate, you should threaten with consequences, but these must also be feasible. This can be a computer or television ban or cell phone withdrawal. A lack of cooperation should not be punished with withdrawal of pocket money, but the current WLAN password does not exist either.

Checklists support you

The cleaning checklist package includes contain the following checklists and budgets

  • Door check-off list for the children's room (with tasks and empty)
  • Cleaning tasks for children and young people
  • Stamp sheet for children as a reward

The plan “Cleaning tasks for children and young people” includes activities for the following age groups:

  • 3 - 6 years (e.g. hand over clothespins)
  • 6 - 10 years (e.g. wiping the dining table)
  • 10 - 16 years (e.g. going shopping)
  • from 16 years (e.g. cooking simple meals)

Your next step: Download a free household checklist now.

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The article was published on February 17, 2020.

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