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Chores problem with 8yo DS

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Okay, I'll try to make this concise and to the point. I'm really at a loss as to what to do.


My 8yo DS has had pretty much the same chores for 2 years and STILL is not successful in completely them correctly each morning. My boys do their chores in the morning and then do not have any more throughout the day.


His chores:

Get dressed

Straighten room & take dirty clothes to the chute

Empty dishwasher

Eat breakfast & clean area well

Brush teeth & comb hair

Stock bathrooms (3 of them) with kleenex, toilet paper & wet wipes.

Empty bathroom trash from 2 bathrooms

Take dirty rags from kitchen hamper to laundry

Sort laundry from chute

Put his clean laundry away


Of course, he is never expected to do this all from memory, he has a check off sheet in the kitchen. Although, we've also done the "chore pack" from The Maxwells and that didn't work either. He'll mark things that weren't completed or forget to mark the stupid thing entirely. I don't think any of this is intentional, but it sure is aggravating!


So, thinking maybe that was too much (even though none of the jobs would be very large on any given day if done every day), I've revised the schedule so he doesn't do it all on one day:


His revised chores:

Get dressed (all days)

Straighten room & take dirty clothes to the chute (Su,T,Th,Sa)

Empty dishwasher (all days)

Eat breakfast & clean area well (all days)

Brush teeth & comb hair (all days)

Stock bathrooms (3 of them) with kleenex, toilet paper & wet wipes. (Su,T,Th,Sa)

Empty bathroom trash from 2 bathrooms (Su,T,Th,Sa)

Take dirty rags from kitchen hamper to laundry (M, W, F)

Sort laundry from chute (M, W, F)

Put his clean laundry away (M, W, F)


Unfortunately, each day things are left incomplete. Milk is left in a puddle at his breakfast place, cereal left out...wipes completely forgotten until they run out (he should fill them when 1/2 empty)...hanging clothes in closet fallen on the floor...


Constantly little things left undone. I don't know what to do. This is NOT too advanced for him. He is a wonderful little boy and does his school work well, just seems to refuse to do his chores to excellence. Even if he just doesn't "see" (despite many attempts at training - and writing out lists of the details - etc) what needs to be done, how do I train him to "see"?


We've tried penalties (loss of computer, loss of treat, loss of TV), we've tried hand-holding and none of it seems to work. He's starting to feel like he can't ever get it right and while I don't want him to feel that way, every morning we wake up and there are things (things he's been trained to do), that are left undone.


I am not expecting perfection - all of the things are reasonable. Expecting an 8 year old to clean his breakfast area (putting things away and wiping the table with a wet cloth) - is not asking too much.


Anyway, I just don't know what to do. We've also tried spreading the chores out throughout the day and that never seems to work either.




Edited by A.J. at J.A.
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Maybe it is an 8 year old boy 'thing' because we have the same struggles here. I remind him to get dressed and he puts on a shirt and underwear and then gets distracted by a toy before he puts his pants on!! Lots of little things like that. I have no good advice, just sympathy.

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Break it down and train it more. I used to be a military flight instructor and it recently hit me - I was expecting my kids to solo without the proper amount of training. Their lack of "diligence" was really my lack of training. What's so easy to me as a pilot or mom is really much harder for a 7 or 8 year old (and some kids are a little harder to train than others! UGH!!). When flight instructing we'd introduce a topic by discussing it (to death) and explaining it from every angle and then having them discuss it and then asking them a million questions. THEN, we'd demonstrate it a few times. Then it was "introduced" meaning we talked them through it and aided them and it wasn't a graded item. Then it became a practice item for a while, and then it became a graded item. [in reality - the process in flight training was very fast paced - but with our kids I think we need to slow things down and let some stages last a while.] When I stepped back recently to see why I was frustrated that some things my kids weren't getting - I realized with my kids I told them what to do, asked them if they "got" it, demonstrated it once or twice and then graded them on it. Ouch. I was setting them up to crash. So now I let the process last a whole lot longer. I train more and discipline less. We talk about the chore - what's involved - what's expected (heck - you can make it a memory work item!) It's a process. You're doing great and I think your expectations are reasonable. He's 8. Stick with the training and it will pay off (I hope!! My kids are too young to tell yet...)



And... wisdom from a wise been-there homeschool mom - "kids do what you inspect, not what you expect." Relax. Breathe. And train some more. He'll get it. (And someday I hope this process will SOMEDAY help me teach my 7 year old how to rake leaves!!!)

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I'd let him pick out new chores. You provide a list of acceptable alternatives & he picks. Let him start with a clean slate. I know a lot of people might disagree with this, but it sounds like he's hit a wall--similar to the wall kids sometimes hit when learning to read or learning their multiplication tables. Walk away; leave it alone. Sometimes they just need a break. :)

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I would probably group the chores differently and break them up during the day. I sometimes find it overwhelming to have a long list of things to do all over the house. I get distracted switching tasks and wind up drifting off to something else. It's much easier for me to make a list of what needs to be done then tackle one or two tasks each time I break from another activity or as I go back and forth between activities.


Get dressed

Brush teeth and comb hair


Eat breakfast and clean area


Straighten room and take dirty clothes to the chute


Empty dishwasher

Take rags from kitchen to laundry


Stock bathrooms

Empty bathroom trash


Sort laundry from chute


Put clean laundry away

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I think that's too much to expect an 8 year old to do every morning ... even if you stagger the chores by day. Looking at that list makes me feel overwhelmed.


Were I you, I would pick one or two chores and walk him through them every day until you are satisfied that he knows how to do them properly. A week or so later, add another chore or two. Rinse and repeat. But I would not expect him to complete seven chores every morning. That's too much.


I think that if he did some in the morning and some in the afternoon it would work well.



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I have to second the "it's an 8 year old boy thing". I'm living the same thing. I swear he did a better job on his chores when he was 3,4, and 5. We do have slightly less chores than you do and it's still an issue.


How hard is it to remember to brush your teeth on a daily basis? I don't get that.

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My 9 yo boy only has

get dressed

brush teeth

tidy room

make bed

sweep floor

clean bathroom sink.

and that about does him in:001_smile:


I can't imagine him having your list. :001_smile:


It might just be a little too overwhelming



He does do a few other chores at other times in the day



I also have to do checking Every Single Day on all the kids chores or else things get consistently "forgotten". They just have to learn diligence over time. When I look at how much work it is for ME to remember and stick to all my chores and responsibilities, I have to have a lot of grace in reminding, etc.



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I kinda agree with Cera in the grouping, but had a different idea.

I'd pare down the list, take two chore breaks during the day, and make some chores easier by putting in a logical consequence sort of thing--


Pare down--He's already brushing teeth and hair and getting dressed before school starts, right? Same with eating breakfast. He knows to do this because he's hungry. So take these off the list--he should be able to remember just by the signal of being ready for school. Just have him clean up the breakfast area and empty the dishwasher. You can tell him he knows to get ready in the morning and doesn't need a list for personal care anymore--go ahead, make him feel good. Give him a small reminder that school starts in 10 minutes or whatever, if he isn't dressed/brushed.


Take a chore break, after about an hour of school----do bathroom chores, go make his bed. He can do this while you are working with your other son.


Have him straighten his room before bed--put his clean laundry on the bed during the day so he has to put it away before he can crawl in. Have him put his laundry in the bin then, too. That way, when he wakes in the am, he's gets up to a clean room.


So his list would be:


Before School

Clean breakfast area

Empty the dishwasher


On Break

Bathroom chores

Make your bed


Before Bed

Straighten room

Put laundry away

Take the kitchen rags down


I'd take away his other laundry duties, to be honest. Oh, and put a check list beside the bathroom and one in his room.

Edited by Chris in VA
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Thanks everyone for the great recommendations (and commiserations)! Glad to know I'm not alone and that I can try some new ways to train him.


We have already tried some of the recommendations and truthfully the original ordering makes more sense than it looks like (he moves from his bedroom, to the kitchen, to the laundry room, etc.), but I might give it another go about splitting them up during the day.




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We switched the order when our boys were younger (they're now 16, 14, 14) so that they had to get up, get dressed, and do their chores BEFORE breakfast. Believe me, food is a HUGE motivator! In all the years, with 3 boys, I only had to have a boy do without breakfast once, maybe twice (and it was the same "forgetful" boy). It saved me lots of aggravation in years to come!


HTH, Kimm

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And... wisdom from a wise been-there homeschool mom - "kids do what you inspect, not what you expect."




My kids are older and I STILL have to inspect ... not every single time any more, but frequently. They still have days when they try to pass off shoddy work as "done." Inspection has been the key in our household.



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