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Teach your kids to clean (printable chore chart)

teach your kids to clean (without whining, begging or nagging involved)

If your kids are like mine, they tend to be a bit messy and prefer to do most anything other than put their shoes away or clean their room. With four children, our house can go from perfectly clean to looking as if it was ransacked by thieves within five minutes. It’s incredible. Please tell me you can relate so I feel better.

Teaching kids to clean doesn’t have to be like banging your head on a wall over, and over, and over again. Though it will be if you let it. But anyone can teach their children to take responsibility and clean without resorting to nagging or whining (them or you).

1. Give them short tasks

If you tell a younger child o go clean his or her room it might not get done how you would like. Be specific. Say, “It’s time to clean your room. First, go pull everything out from under your bed.” Then once they’ve accomplished that they can move onto the next step in the chore. Tell me your kids stuff things under their beds as well.

Break down the tasks. Some children have a more difficult time with this than others. Here’s a great example:

What you say: Go put your clothes away.

What you should say: Go put your clothes away. First, pick them up off the floor. Then put the dirty ones in the laundry basket. If it is clean, get out a hanger and carefully put it on the hanger.

As they get older they no longer need tasks broken down into steps for them and will learn to do it on their own but younger children don’t often think in terms of a 4 step process when you say something simple like “Go put your clothes away.”

2. Teach them HOW to do each task

If they’re younger, you must show them how to do each step. We sometimes forget that kids don’t have the same knowledge base that we do. Get down there and show them how it’s done the first few time until they understand.

I asked my daughter to sweep up a mess she made the other day and then got upset watching her swirl it around with a broom. OH! We haven’t taught her yet! Difficult tasks (like learning to sweep properly) will take some practice and guidance. Be patient and don’t expect a perfect job the first time. On the other hand, children are capable of giving a great effort so don’t let them skate by without learning how to do things well.

3. Teach them to be self motivated

We came up with a pretty amazing solution last year. Kids LOVE incentives. So we created a chore chart. There is nothing unique or special about a chore chart.

Here’s a sample of what one of our charts may look like one week:sample chore chart

These are basic things that we found ourselves repeating to them over and over. But once we instituted the chore chart we didn’t have to remind them anymore.

We made the rule that they were responsible. No reminders. Then we would check off the things that they did do. No negotiations are involved. If it isn’t done in a reasonable amount of time (we don’t beg them or get on their case) we just don’t give them a check in that chore box.

Then we total up the points. And these points are like gold here. Gold, I tell you. Missing a point is seriously upsetting, sometimes it’s the end of the world. But everyone bounces back for another day, remarkably.

You can print your own chore charts if this is something that sounds good for your family. Making your own is super easy but if you want to shave a half hour off your prep time you can use my chart.

We have a goal for the week for how many points to make (or miss, which is easier for younger kids to count). We try to keep it under 11 misses. That means everyone can have one lousy day where they don’t get things done and still make their goal.

It’s up to you if you want to reward a point goal achieved or keep the points as reward enough. You might be interested in printing some of our Screen Time Tickets.

FREE printable chore chart

With this system kids will be responsible for themselves and the daily little tasks they need to do to be a part of a smooth running family. No reminding or nagging involved.

When we use these chore charts the house is in less chaos and everyone takes responsibility for themselves with a parent having to remind them. When we stop using them for a while things start to backslide and we start having to remind them again. And that’s because we get lazy (or too busy) as parents and don’t set expectations. So why haven’t we been using these lately??? What is wrong with me? They’re coming back today! We need a little refresher course on self motivation!

And, because I love you all and want you to have a little sanity as well, go ahead and download the chore chart. Click Blank Chore Chart to download.

So tell me, what works for you? How have you taught your children to be responsible for themselves and the home without nagging or reminding them constantly?

More great cleaning posts!


  1. Rhonda says

    My four year old daughter is just learning to read, so I made her checklist with little drawings along with the words of what she is expected to do each day. She actually likes running back and forth to check her checklist to see what to do next.

  2. Celia says

    Hi! Pinterest brought me here and I am excited about this idea! I’ve been looking into setting up a new chore system and I like the philosophy behind yours. I’ve printed off some of your blank chore charts to get us started, so I wanted to say thank you! I’m excited to get started!

  3. Lisa says

    I find we switch up our systems occasionally, and right now we are using a “Lanyard System”. Each kid has their own lanyard, and a folder full of cards with all the optional jobs. Each day I put the jobs they are responsible for on their lanyard, so when they get home from school they put on their lanyard and know exactly what they need to do that day. Nagging/reminding has gone down to almost nil! Whoop whoop!

  4. Stephanie Nash says

    I came across this via pinterest, and I LOVE it! I do agree, I have four kids as well and yes, it takes just a few minutes to make it look like no one ever cleans! I just printed 5 of your charts. Starting tomorrow, I will see how this works with my 5 and 7 yr old. The other are 3 and 1, and cannot read yet. But the little ones are the girls and for some reason I have no problem asking them to pick something up! Thank you for the charts!

  5. says

    Great advice. I know for me, I am easily overwhelmed by what looks like a HUGE job. Lots of mess overwhelms me as an adult so I know how important it is to break it down – which of course I can do in my own head for myself but kids don’t quite grasp that concept yet. Good ideas!

  6. Melissa says

    I love this idea. Can you please share with us what your kids use the points towards? I get stuck at ideas for the ‘reward’. I would prefer for it not to be financial as I believe everyone in the house should chip in on the housekeeping.

  7. Jessica Bencomo says

    Thank you for sharing. I just made an enormous dry erase board so one board works for all 5 kids. I’m excited. Thanks again.

  8. kristina says

    i have a 16 yr old 14 yr old 9 yr old boys and a 7 yr old daughter and the older boys are slobs i stress to them time n time again how things need to be cleaned even show them but they still will not clean properly or half a… things help

  9. says

    Very useful chore chart! I have three children. Two girls and a boy so I understand what you mean, they can make a mess for five minutes, too! :) I am trying to teach them the clean and organize their rooms and some ideas might be useful. Thanks for sharing the post!

  10. Chelatenous says

    I love this idea as well. However, my two boys want screen time daily. How would I allow that, even if only for a half hour, and use your system at the same time?

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