Motivating kids is something every parent tries to do, albeit with varying degrees of success. Some parents resign themselves to having to do everything around the house themselves, including waiting hand and foot on their juvenile masters. Once you’ve allowed children to dominate and exploit you in this way, it’s going to be difficult to be able to motivate them to do anything, so try not to let things get so bad.

One thing that teachers of young kids know is that children can be motivated to do unappealing tasks by adding an element of competition. The child who refuses to be bothered doing simple arithmetic can leap to the top of the class if the arithmetic makes up part of a game of darts and they need to calculate their own score. Students who are bored stiff by comprehension can become aces if they are told to compete retelling a story against the clock or another group of students.

As a parent, you can use the same strategies at home to motivate your children to do their chores. It’s often easy to have two children compete against each other, although this can lead to tears if there is a large age difference and one child wins everything. Instead of having two children compete against each other to see who can tidy their bedroom properly first, why not have them compete against you – can they tidy both bedrooms properly and faster than you can tidy the living room? You can set a prize for the winner, something like the winner gets their shoes polished by the loser. If you lose, you only end up doing what you would have done anyway, minus the bedrooms.

If a child starts to bore of the games, it means they’ve lost motivation. At this point move them on to something more exciting or fun, but expect as a rule that they do the previous chore regardless (in the former example, make tidying their room a house rule from now on). Kids are fascinated by machines, so you can easily motivate them with the chance to use one. The challenge for you is to teach them to use it safely and responsibly. Don’t leave your child unsupervised with a lawn mower or snow blower until they are more than ready. As it’s unlikely you have two or more of these machines, you might have to make your child compete against the clock. In this case, don’t push them so hard that they end up cutting corners. If you’re still using shovels to clear your driveway of snow, don’t expect to get much enthusiasm for this from your child. To them, the idea of shifting a ton of snow from your driveway with a shovel is about as appealing as trying to mow the lawn with a pair of scissors. Get on to and buy them a snow blower as their main gift this festive season.

Once your child has gotten used to doing a number of chores as part of their household responsibilities, they may see it as unfair on them if you try to keep adding to them. Children need to have free time for playing or just as down time. If you really need them to help further, you might have to motivate them with money. Make sure you’re not eating into their study or sports time. As kids go through their teens, they will begin to find that they want money. Many children simply expect to be given an allowance by their parents and use their tempers as bargaining tools. Don’t stand for this kind of behavior at all. Find a way for your child to help you out that you can pay them for. This can even be something like spending time helping out elderly neighbors or cleaning up your street.

Motivating children to do boring chores in this way adds an element of fun to the chore. Learning to do something well is easy when it’s fun, and once they’ve got it down, they’ll be able to deal with it without a second thought. If you have enough kids, there might be nothing left for you to do!