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What a Chore!

Is getting your kids to do their chores a challenge? If so, check out Chore Wars, a free online game that launched this month. The game takes some setup time. The group administrator assigns points (i.e. minutes a chore takes) to different tasks. And then the war is on ... to earn the most points and move up levels. And chores take on adventure "traits" that you give them. (Thanks to Boing Boing for flagging this to me.)

Is this game more effective than the old-fashioned chore wheel? Or a dry-erase chore board? Who knows? But it does add some imagination to the must-get-done tasks that no one really wants to tackle. And it's hard to argue that computer time spent playing a game that also gets work done around the house is bad.

Is this a game you'd try in your family? What chores do you ask of your kids and which ones spark the most arguments? How do you enforce chores in your house?

By Stacey Garfinkle |  July 30, 2007; 10:00 AM ET  | Category:  Elementary Schoolers , Teens , Tweens
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Comments


(FIRST!!!)

Sounds like something from SuperNanny!!

DD is too young for chores, but I might try something like that when she is older. I'm not sure I'd go to a website for it though - I'm thinking of maybe making a fun SuperNanny-esque calendar with stickers where she can earn rewards (like getting a friend to spend the night, choosing dinner, or an extra story before bed).

Posted by: StudentMom | July 30, 2007 10:04 AM | Report abuse

In our family we approach chores similar to how they approached them in Jamestown.

No chores, no food... simple, effective, and helps keep them from becoming obese

Posted by: NYC | July 30, 2007 10:16 AM | Report abuse

Fear of our mother motivated us. If we didn't do what we were told, she'd beat the crap out of us.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 30, 2007 10:46 AM | Report abuse

I am all for chores. My wife tends to do it for them. I don't because I have no intention of being their maid. When she is gone, I tell them to clean up , put their plates up etc. Amazing, they can do it!

Posted by: pATRICK | July 30, 2007 11:09 AM | Report abuse

Hum, problem is we only have 1 child left at home, he'd be playing against himeself. Not only that, but because he didn't do his chores (again) last night, he woke up this morning to find himeself locked out of the computer (again).

Posted by: Claire | July 30, 2007 11:44 AM | Report abuse

I must say this is refreshing. Comments appear to come from parents who parent and not the entitler's who propagate children as luxury items to flaunt in public like a prada bag... Bravo!

Posted by: Bingo | July 30, 2007 12:29 PM | Report abuse

ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ

Posted by: Anonymous | July 30, 2007 12:41 PM | Report abuse

"I am all for chores. My wife tends to do it for them. I don't because I have no intention of being their maid. When she is gone, I tell them to clean up , put their plates up etc. Amazing, they can do it!"

Sounds like the wife is more interested in being a "friend" to the kids than a parent.
The tail shouldn't wag the dog....

Posted by: Jake | July 30, 2007 12:45 PM | Report abuse

"Comments appear to come from parents who parent and not the entitler's who propagate children as luxury items to flaunt in public like a prada bag... "

Huh?

Posted by: Anonymous | July 30, 2007 12:46 PM | Report abuse

My DD is still much too young for chores, but I am counting down the days until she gets to take over cat pan duty. I figure if she complains about it I can remind her of the fabulous 30 hours I spent in labor with her.

Posted by: reston, va | July 30, 2007 12:52 PM | Report abuse

Sounds like the wife is more interested in being a "friend" to the kids than a parent.
The tail shouldn't wag the dog....

No, she ,just like many mothers, takes on too much work and should delegate more.

Posted by: pATRICK | July 30, 2007 12:58 PM | Report abuse

"Da boyz" are responsible for feeding the cats (the cats are very good at reminding them about this chore), taking out the trash including sorting the recycling and putting the bins out for the weekly pick-up, and for doing all household laundry.

Other chores - out of the ordinary day-to-day variety - are ways for them to earn some money. They don't have an allowance, and we don't buy video games for them, so when they want a new game, they have to find ways to earn the money to pay for it.

Posted by: Sue | July 30, 2007 1:03 PM | Report abuse

The maid does all the chores in my house. Makes life very simple.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 30, 2007 1:12 PM | Report abuse

Age-appropriate chores


-- Age: 2 to 3

Chores: Picking up toys and books, putting laundry in hamper, helping clean spills

Age: 4 to 5

Chores: Setting and clearing table, dusting, feeding pets

Age: 6 to 8

Chores: Making bed, taking out trash and recycling, folding and putting away clean clothes, vacuuming and mopping

Age: 9 to 12

Chores: Doing laundry, washing pots and pans, cleaning bathroom

Age: 13 to 18

Chores: Mowing and weeding lawn, preparing grocery lists, cleaning oven and refrigerator

Source: Leah Gensheimer, associate professor of psychology, University of Missouri-Kansas City

Posted by: Anonymous | July 30, 2007 2:12 PM | Report abuse

"cleaning oven and refrigerator"

Ovens are self-cleaning and who cleans the fridge but once every couple years (unless something spills)????

Posted by: Anonymous | July 30, 2007 2:46 PM | Report abuse

5 year old DD has a couple of simple chores including opening and closing her blinds, helping fold her laundry, sorting her dads socks, and getting the newspaper in the morning. We live in a condo so she can do it without stepping outside.

Posted by: shdd | July 30, 2007 4:06 PM | Report abuse

5 year old DD has a couple of simple chores including opening and closing her blinds, helping fold her laundry, sorting her dads socks, and getting the newspaper in the morning. We live in a condo so she can do it without stepping outside.

Posted by: shdd | July 30, 2007 4:06 PM | Report abuse

5 year old DD has a couple of simple chores including opening and closing her blinds, helping fold her laundry, sorting her dads socks, and getting the newspaper in the morning. We live in a condo so she can do it without stepping outside.

Posted by: shdd | July 30, 2007 4:06 PM | Report abuse

I think games can be good to get kids interested in chores and trained to doing them, and I'm ok with incentive programs for above and beyond chores or extras.

But I think just having chores that everyone has to do is good for everyone at just about every age. Most of us don't live on farms, but maintaining a household is work that everyone needs to be part of.

Posted by: Liz D | July 30, 2007 4:08 PM | Report abuse

I'm getting some real push-back about setting the table chores from my 4 yr old. The kind of thing that's ruined several dinners by putting him in a contrary or combative mood too early in the evening. What do people do when the child won't do the chores and time outs throw the child into a serious tantrum? I'm tired of ending up at the ultimatum too fast, but the "let's make it a game" scenario always ends up being "let's watch Daddy do it and leave the room halfway through." And I don't mean it "always" does, I mean this has never worked once without someone going into time out first and coming downstairs to apologize and begrudgingly set the table.

Posted by: DCer | July 30, 2007 5:12 PM | Report abuse

DCer how do you start?

Does dinnertime represent something bad to him?

I'd suggest getting out all the supplies, putting them on the table, and then just asking the boy how HE thinks the table should be set for dinner. That might intrigue him enough to have "control" and you can make it very silly with all the forks on top of one plate, or all the spoons in one bowl. At this point he doesn't need to perfectly set the table, he needs to take time to work at setting the table. Once you get past his initial "This is bad/wrong" resistance, then it can become a normal routine.

Without knowing more of the picture, how you presented the notion to him, or what other issues may be going on, I can't offer more.

Posted by: Liz D | July 30, 2007 5:40 PM | Report abuse

DCer, I'm no expert, but it sounds like he might be testing you. If he knows that you will go to lengths to avoid his tantrums, then he holds the trump card and he "wins."

Posted by: StudentMom | July 30, 2007 8:04 PM | Report abuse

DCer: I don't know you're setting the table routine at night, but one thing that seems to work at the arsenic hour: I tell the boys to pick their plates from their drawer. It's one that's well within their reach. If they don't put the plate on the table, they don't have something to eat with. I do the same with the fork/spoon and cup. If I see that they're tired, I don't push it. It's something I carry out through all meals, so they are quite used to me asking them to get their plates and silverware. Now, if I could only get them to stop fighting over the different colored plates, it would work even better!

Posted by: Stacey Garfinkle | July 30, 2007 8:27 PM | Report abuse

Oh, this sometimes easy and sometimes hard. Basic chores for my 6 and 8 year olds are keeping their room clean, keeping the games and art supplies put away, helping fold clothes, putting clean clothes away, putting their plates in the sink after meals. We are not perfect on this and it is my fault--I am not as consistent as I should be. Although they are not so likely to do a chore without being reminded, they do like to think of themselves as helpers.

I am trying to add cleaning the bathroom sink to the nightly chore list, and as long as I remember to ask them to do it, they do. I am not aware that they have ever remembered to do it on their own.

Sometime chores are helping take the laundry downstairs, major renovations of their art area, clearing the dishwasher, etc. Both are more eager to do non-routine tasks than routine tasks. They constantly explain to me that they don't like to clean up (no kidding, me either). They are especially eager to do chores that I haven't assigned to them (the 6 year old loves to vacuum, but isn't very good at it).

Actually, most of the time they do chores with a minimum of complaint. But the 8 yr old told me several years ago, "Call me Cinderella." The funny thing is, she was eagerly doing the chores. I think she was engaging in fantasy play. Well, whatever it takes. When they do get cranky about chores, I try several options. One is "let's see how much we can get done in 5-10-15 minutes." Another is "I think it would be really fun to have a game night tonight, but in order to do that, I want to have x chores done by 5pm (or whatever)."

I don't know what to suggest about kids not wanting to do chores, except that I remember as a child that there were certain chores I absolutely hated. Also, I know that preschool children like to have a little control. So maybe you could find several chores for your child to do, and explain that at least one (or two, or whatever) need to be done each day, and let the child choose which chore(s) to do each day. Once chores are done without complaint, you can make the child do more chores or with increasing regularity.

When I was growing up, my sister and I traded jobs. I did chores A, B, and C during week 1, while she did D, E, and F. The next week we switched. I got the impression that DCer has only one child old enough to do chores, but coming up with some way of switching around might help.

Posted by: janedoe | July 30, 2007 9:10 PM | Report abuse

I dunno. After Penny Arcade did a strip on this, I just see Chore Wars as something for College-aged roommates to intellectualize time when you're not studying.

That said, I would be a hypocrite if I didn't expect my kids to take personal responsibility when I all but beat it into my students' heads. My stepdaughter brings her chair to the table (we have Japanese setup, but she's not big enough to reach the table without a boost), she helps Daddy wash dishes by stacking them in the dry rack, and she cleans up her room. There's no bribe to go along with it, but she knows she will not be allowed to do certain things if chores aren't done in a timely manner.

Posted by: Kat | July 31, 2007 6:35 PM | Report abuse

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