Teaching kids to develop intrinsic motivation can be difficult. It’s not pleasant to be treated like a universal vending machine where kids put in a completed task and you spit out money. Once they hit the teen years, this connection between money and household tasks can easily get out of control — unless your teens have learned the value of pitching in without getting paid.
Here are a few ideas to help you teach your kids the value of helping out.
How to Motivate Your Kids Without Paying Them
1. Trade time for chores.
This is one of the best ways to teach younger kids about the value of helping out without getting paid. Saying “If we pick up all your toys right now, we can play catch in the yard for a half an hour,” is an example of trading fun time for chores. This also teaches kids that time is valuable — an important life lesson that isn’t always grasped unless intentionally taught.
2. Use entertainment time as a reward.
Most kids have some form of gaming system today. Xbox, Playstation, Nintendo, Wii, iPads, iPods… gaming is a normal part of life for our kids. One of the biggest mistakes I made early on was to view the physical disc or app as the reward, when it would’ve been smarter to view the playtime as the reward. Now when my kids get a new game, they earn time playing that game by helping out. “Put away your laundry and straighten up your room to earn an hour of game time,” is a better lesson than allowing unlimited access to games.
3. Take time for reflection.
Reflection after chores is a task that can help your kids develop their sense of intrinsic motivation. When cleaning up after a meal, call attention to the clean kitchen and tidy dining room and ask your kids how having a clean home makes them feel. Talk about the benefits of cleaning up after yourself, and what happens when we let messiness take over. Kids are so busy; it’s beneficial to slow down and prompt a thinking session that will help them learn and grow.
4. Praise your kids for a job well done.
Praise can go a long way toward motivating your kids to help out. When they do a good job, clean up without being asked to, or make an extra effort, be sure to call them out.
5. Be spontaneous.
If your kids always know what to expect for completing a task, they often get bored and slack off. Spontaneous rewards like 15 minutes of extra TV time, ice cream treats after supper, or a trip to the park for a job well done will help keep your kids motivated.
6. Include your kids in saving for something special.
If your family is saving for a new purchase or a special trip, include your kids in the process. If you’re running behind with supper, enlist your kids’ help in putting a meal on the table. And be sure to remind them that by eating in instead of ordering a pizza, you’re putting more money in your special savings fund.
7. Make chores fun.
While scooping the doggy piles out of the backyard is necessary, it’s rarely a fun chore. Go ahead and get silly with your kids while cleaning and make your time together enjoyable. Create small games, pretend there’s a creature in the laundry chute that eats dirty socks and turns them into cookies, or let your kids come up with a pretend game to make chore time a pleasure. You can combine work with play at home and teach your kids to enjoy everyday tasks.
How do you motivate your kids to help out at home?