23 answers

9 Year Old Chores

Hello, I would like some advice about expectations of cleanliness for a 9 year old boy. My ds is an intelligent, respectful and responsible guy EXCEPT when it comes to cleanliness. When it comes to chores he turns from a generally nice kid to a very rude and obstinate one. Almost every request or demand for cleanliness (be it removing dishes from the table to cleaning his room) is met with either a grunt or down right refusal. He will even get tearful over a job he is being made to do. He is supposed to be responsible for his room, his school work (which he does well if somewhat a little messily), his clothes folding and putting away as well as our landing/entrance area. Up until recently he was in charge of garbage but elected to try out the entrance instead. I think all of this is fair for a 9 year old (maybe should even have a little more). He is a very smart kid but likes to play "dumb" when it comes to completing cleaning tasks correctly. I feel I have tried a lot of different tactics; from rewards to punishments, charts, prizes, etc etc etc. Nothing has seemed to stick. Being the older brother of 3 younger children he has done a wonderful job of helping me with them, grabbing diapers, entertaining, helping with toys, etc etc and is very compliant when I request some sort of help with the younger ones. This why I have been more lenient about his cleanliness b.c he is so helpful with them. I know I am not doing him any favors by teaching him that picking up after himself, being clean and organized are optional tasks. The attitude I get back is the hardest part and adds so much more of a problem to the cleanliness issue. Most of the moms I ask with boys this age just tell me "boys are messy" and I have been unable to get some concrete ideas about how to change this issue with him. I know that it starts with me and how consistent and insistent I am willing to be. I DO NOT want to raise a boy who will turn into a man who thinks a woman is responsible for cleaning up after him. My husband is not this way and I refuse to raise someone to think like that. I don't even know where to start with my "little piggy", please help!

What can I do next?

Featured Answers

The best thing I can tell you is to stay consistent. Make him redo whatever is not done right. Eventually he will get tired of redoing it and do it right. Also, I've found taking away whatever my kids like best (video games, phone, comp., etc.)makes them want to do better to get them back. Hope this helps some.

I teach 9-10 year olds and find that boys at this age are sometimes struggling with the change from little kid to big kid/preteen. They still want to be the baby and be babied while at the same time wanting to grow up. It is an age of transition. Keep trying and consistency on whatever you choose is key.

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I have a ten year old boy, 4 year old boy, and 3 year old boy. It is never too early to have expectaions to clean up after yourself. 2 weekends ago, I was fed up with asking them to put away thier toys so I quietly grabbed a garbage bag and started picking them up and putting them in the bags. It did not take long for them to notice what I was doing and start freaking out. I took all of the toys that were not where they belonged and put them in bags. THe bags are in our shed, but the kids think they are gone forever. Since then if I even say one word about toys being left around my house they drop everything and quickly pick up after themselves. There was a lot of waterworks, but it has been great for them to know we mean business and not just threats. And I made sure that it was all of their stuff, not just my oldests. He is a great kid too, helpful, does great in school, never complains when we ask him to do something, but just does not take any initiative to do it unless asked. The worst punishment for the boys is to take away the video games and TV privilages. And when we do we hide them so they can not find them. Even go so far as to remove the cords so they can not plug in the TV. (It doesn't reach without extension from where it is.) If you need to vent or talk let me know. It is not perfect here and is always a battle, but sometimes it just helps to release frustration and know other moms have kids who are the same way:)

1 mom found this helpful

you need to stick to your guns and use age appropriate discipline. my step daughter was a good one for being a little pig. I took away her most prized possession (her tv,vcr,game system, and computer) and told her that since she had chosen to destroy our most expensive possession (our home) that until she kept up her end of the deal and kept her mess clean that it was gone. (my husband actually took her things to work and stored them.) she learned very quickly..everytime her mess came back, her stuff disappeared. it got to the point that she didnt want to lose her things anymore.
just keep your chin up...it will pan out.

I have an 11 year old boy with three younger siblings. He too has always been willing to help out with his brother and sisters and pick up toys, bring me a diaper and what not. We told him once he turned 6 he was going to be expected to do more things than pick up toys, put his dishes in the sink, make his bed and make sure his clothes made it to the hamper. We slowly have added to his "duties" AND fun "big boy" activities usually right around his turning a year older, we try to make it into "You are getting so grown up! Now that you are turning 6 you GET to do more things like ride your bike on the sidewalk and not just in the driveway and play with the little tiny legos, learn how to read and have more duties around our house. Isn't that exciting! You are such a big boy!" At 7 he was responsible to unload the dishwasher and keep his room clean, sweeping and some dusting. At 8 he was in charge of setting the table for meals and emptying all the garbage cans for garbage day and helping with some of the raking and the shoveling, folding his clothes and putting them away. Right before his ninth birthday he got a paper route which he loves -- it gives him a lot of satisfaction to do a job well and have the freedom to leave the block without his siblings and get paid -- this helps us to teach him the value of money early on and how to budget that small amount of money. I didn't add extra "duties" that year. At ten we gave the dishwasher unloading to his younger brother and he was in charge of loading it and doing more dishes by hand and mowing a little, vacuuming a little. We also had a baby that year so he helped a lot around the house, he and his siblings were in charge of putting EVERYTHING away that they got out. Now that he's 11 and our 5 year old and 8 year old are taking over some of his old duties, I'm starting to teach him how to do his own laundry and cook simple meals. Our goal for all of our children is for them to be able to run a household (all the basics of cleaning, cooking and money management) by the time they are 13 or 14. (I can't take credit for this timeline-- I have a mentor mom who has done this/is doing this with nine children who I talk to regularly) After 14 life gets so busy for a high schooler that they are rarely at home or have the time to teach them the fundamentals of running a home. Does he complain and procrastinate sometimes-- yes -- he's normal. Does he do his "duties" perfectly-- no-- but he has a year or more to learn it before something else is added. I try to remember to praise them for their efforts and not necessarily for the outcome -- especially at first--and I try really hard not to do it over later if it wasn't done "perfectly". Does our house look like a wreck on a regular basis-- oh yes! But when everyone knows what their duties are we can get it back to looking somewhat normal again fairly quickly. We have sat our children down and told them what we are going to expect from them a few days before we start a new duty so they can get used to the idea and we always add some fun things that they get to do because they are a year older. That really motivates them. When a job doesn't get done then they don't get to do those fun "grown up" things either. This has been a trial and error learning experience,because what works for one child (usually what motivates them) doesn't work for all of them. They keep us on our toes. Hope this helps! You are doing a great job. :)

The responses below are both excellent advice. Whatever you decide to do, stick with it. My son, also a "messy boy", is now 22 and often thanks me for making him do those chores. When he got to college, he knew how to take care of himself and his apartment. Many other boys did not. He is working now and says it also helped his work ethic. He never gave me much attitude, but my 18yo daughter still at home always has. She knows she can give me every bit of attitude she wants, but it still has to be done. And if she pulls the trick of doing it halfway, she has to do it until it's right. This just happened last week! I made her re-clean her bathroom 3 times before it was acceptable! I'm not sure how she will be at college next year, I just pray she gets a roommate with a lot of grace! :)

It seems that for some reason your son has decided that doing chores is a contest of wills.
Try talking to your husband and have him take over the battle. Since your husband has no problem cleaning and being neat have him show your son how to do his chores. your son may have gotten the message from who knows where that 'real men' don't clean. If he works with his dad he will see that real men do clean. Maybe this is a cry for attention from his dad.

I teach 9-10 year olds and find that boys at this age are sometimes struggling with the change from little kid to big kid/preteen. They still want to be the baby and be babied while at the same time wanting to grow up. It is an age of transition. Keep trying and consistency on whatever you choose is key.

Hi K.
My son is also 9 and gives me the exact same attituide when asked to do his chores. What we have started doing is makeing his chores worth time to do something he likes to do. so if he cleans out the dishwasher he earns 10 minutes of videogame time and when he has completed all his chores without giving me grief he gets a half hour to play his video games and if he does not do his chores he gets nothing. It is the only thing that has worked for us hope it helps T.

I suspect three factors may be at play here;

1. He's at that tween age where he's testing limits and freedoms. Get ready...as he gets older and school crushes, and cars come along it'll get more challenging. Hold to your guns!

2. He's indignant that you're expecting him to clean on top of helping with the younger siblings. Right or wrong, he might think you're taking advantage of him because you're suddenly upping expectations. I gather from what you have written, because he helped with the little ones in the past, you let other chores slide, but now you want and expect more from him because both he and the younger ones are a bit older. The switch up might be confusing or understandably frustrating him.

3. If your other kids or even you and your husband don't have assigned duties and expectations, that means there's no consistency in overal expectations within the household. If there's no consistency in expectations for everyone at home, he's merely following example.

In short, I think the solution to your problem is going to be setting up a chores schedule/calendar for the entire household (that means everyone from the toddler to the parents)and reinforce it with a rewards system of your choosing.

I think children don't do so well when they are "told" to do something. They need to see and be shown what to do. Using a set schedule will help you to effectively establish and enforce the all too important and necessary consistency within the household for expectations, it also visually shows everyone what your expectations are, and will also equal the playing field by showing everyone has a job to make the house comfortable and nice.

Be sure to tell the kids this is how to make the home a happy and clean place to be. Make duties age appropriate and explain this to all involved so no one argues the plan is unfair. Duties for the youngest can be as simple as picking up clothes, putting toys in the toy box, or giving the dog water. Middle to older kids can do way more, including help with dishes, floors, yard work, even laundry.

Be sure you as parents are includ yourselves in the duty mix. Keep in mind, if there's a way you want things done, you are the one who must set the example. Don't nag, don't chastise, just reward well when it's done the way you like. Competition among the ranks will naturally occur and in no time your expectations will be met! ;)

Remind the kids that "everyone" will be expected to chip in, making it fair. Make the duties fun, and avoid calling them chores. Make sure all are made accountable by checking off on the weekly list their accomplished duties.

If someone does not keep up with the schedule, there should be consequences or some sort of penalty such as a removal of a privilege or docking in pay from the "reward system."

Good luck and hope this helps.

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