Chore Wars: 6 “No-Nag” Ways to Get Your Teen to Help Around the House

End the Power Struggle and Help Your Teen Become More Responsible

by Nancy Reynolds

 This post: Chore Wars: 6 Clever Ways to Get Your Teen to Help Around the House (and Clean Their Room)

If you sat a group of parents down in one room and asked them to offer up their greatest source of conflict and stress with their teens, you might find that it’s not the fact that their teen breaks curfew from time to time or that they’re being sassy, it’s that they don’t pitch in enough around the house.

Whether it’s your teen’s messy (okay… maybe disastrous) bedroom, the fact that you have to beg them to take the dishes out of the dishwasher or the fact that you’ve been asking them for weeks to help clean out the garage, teenagers are notorious for cleverly avoiding chores at literally all costs. (By the way, it’s kinda not their fault.)

But it doesn’t have to be that way.

I’ve been exactly where you are. I know how frustrating it is. And, I’ve found a few (rather clever) ways to get your teen to help around the house. So, if you’re tired of reminding, yelling or nagging, check out these mom-tested ideas that work! Here are 6 ways to get your teen to help around the house:

Chore Wars: 6 Ways to Get Your Teen to Help Around the House

This post contains an affiliate link. For more information, please visit our Disclosure/Privacy Page


Use a “No-Nag” To-Do List

Let’s face it, teenagers don’t like being told what to do and they really don’t like it when we constantly remind them or, worse, nag them about, well… anything. Our big kids are craving more independence and they want to be in control of their own schedules. Take it from a mom who’s been there, the last thing our kids want or need is us constantly telling them what to do and when to do it. 

That’s why I created a “Mom’s No-Nag To-Do List.” 

Rather than wearing yourself out (and your teen), write down everything your teen needs to do or know – their priorities for the day, chores you need them to tackle – even things about school, reminders, appointments, etc. all in one place so you don’t have to waste the precious time you have with your teen before they fly the coop harping on them about cleaning their bedroom, vacuuming the living room or taking out the trash.

You can even add “complete by” and/or consequences in the notes section (i.e., “Heads up… if I can’t see your bedroom floor by Friday, you won’t be hanging with friends”) and a sweet love note from mom because our kids need to hear “I love you” a lot!


Let Them Tackle Chores in Their Timeframe

Teenagers (most, anyway) are juggling a busy schedule. Between school, homework, their job or internship, sports, clubs, their social life, and family obligations, they don’t have a ton of “extra” time on their hands to tackle everything you want them to do. Not only are they short on time, but their priorities are completely different than ours and they just don’t care as much about picking up their clothes off the floor or sweeping up all the crumbs they left on the kitchen floor after making themselves a midnight snack. 

Instead of demanding they do a chore immediately, give your teen the latitude to do it in their timeframe.Hey, I know you’ve been super busy with football and homework, but dad needs help trimming the bushes in the yard. When can you carve out time to get it done?

You might be surprised. By relinquishing some control and giving your teen the freedom to choose when they tackle chores, you might find they’re more responsible and agreeable. (If, on the other hand, they keep pushing you off, you may have to put consequences in place.)

Set Clear Expectations

I asked my son to empty the overflowing garbage can in the kitchen, but apparently, he didn’t realize that part of that job actually included putting a new garbage bag in the can. And, when I asked my daughter to finally clean her bedroom, she basically just brought all the spoons and bowls she was hoarding to the kitchen and shoved everything else in less obvious places, like in her closet or under her bed.

Our idea of clean and our kids’ idea of clean are two totally different things. That’s why we need to lay it out there for them. They need to hear, clearly and concisely, exactly what we expect of them. Our kids aren’t mind readers and they don’t view life through the same lens as we do.

Don’t assume your kids know your definition of “clean.” Be specific. Show them, if necessary. Remember, they’re in “Adulthood 101” training.

Schedule a Weekly Time to Clean

For years, Saturday mornings (for about an hour or two) were designated as our family’s weekly clean-up time. I’d give each of my kids a list of things I needed them to do and together we tackled a ton of the housework. We cranked up the music, made it as fun as possible, and just barreled through it.

Although things are a little trickier now that my kids’ schedules are crowded with sports, jobs, internships, etc., I still carve out an hour or two once a week to dive into housework as a family. Everything from vacuuming and sweeping to dusting and cleaning bathrooms – when we all work together, there’s never nearly as much whining or arguing. Everyone is on the same page.

You can’t do it all, mom or dad. Nor should you be required to! Solicit the help of your family. You’ll be amazed how much even one hour of group effort takes off your plate.

Enlist Your Teen’s Help in Establishing Consequences

So often, I found myself at my wit’s end. I’d ask, remind (over and over again), yell, nag, and even beg my kids to do what I asked. “Please, for the last time, I’m asking you to rake the leaves in the yard.” Inevitably, I’d get a response like, “Okaaaay… I said I would. Moooommm… stop bugging me!”

After realizing my asking, reminding, yelling, begging and nagging weren’t working, I decided to enlist my kids’ help in establishing consequences. I sat them down, told them I was tired of tossing out constant reminders that always seemed to end up in the abyss and I told them from now on, we would negotiate (together) exactly which chores needed to be done, when they needed to be done and exactly what the fair consequences would be if they didn’t follow through. (I even put it in writing, at times, and made them sign it.)

Interestingly, because my kids now had a voice – not only in when they did their chores, but also what the consequences would be if they didn’t finish them in the time we both agreed upon, they started to become more responsible. The consequences we came up with included things such as, they couldn’t go out with friends on the weekend, they’d have to relinquish their phone for a day and they couldn’t have their friends over like they planned. Suddenly, my kids began to take ownership of their actions (or lack of).

Let Them Deal with Natural Consequences

When it comes to ways to get your teen to help around the house, sometimes letting them face the natural consequences is the best route to take.

If you’ve asked your son to bring his dirty clothes down from his bedroom 10 times and he keeps blowing you off, eventually he won’t have any clean clothes to wear. If your daughter refuses to bring down the cups, bowls and spoons she’s hoarding in her room, eventually, there won’t be any dishes for her to eat on. 

Sometimes, “tough love” is the way to go when you’re parenting teenagers. Beware, though, tough love can be just as tough on you as it is on your teen. (Seriously, resisting the urge to grab the dirty clothes in your son’s room or the dirty dishes in your daughter’s room can be a challenge.) 

Establish an Ultimatum

Your teen wants you to drive them (and all their friends) to the concert Friday night? Great! You’re happy to do it, providing they put all their clean clothes away, pick up all their stuff on the stairs that’s been sitting there for four days and change the sheets on their bed. 

Let’s be honest… our kids really don’t care if they haven’t changed the sheets on their bed for a month or that piles of crap are sitting on the stairs. Heck, not only do they not care, they barely notice. The only real language they understand is “if you don’t do this, you can’t do that.” 

Eventually, our kids will grow up. They will become more responsible. And, they will put more of a priority on the cleanliness of their environment.

Just maybe not today… 

In the Meantime, Remember This…

  • Your teen is still little on the inside. They have a lot of growing up and maturing to do which means they’re not going to see things the way you do.
  • Sure, helping our kids become responsible adults is high on our priority list. But they’re not adults… just yet. In the meantime, you might have to adjust your expectations and develop the mindset that “clean enough” is “good enough.” 
  • Your connection and relationship with your teen should be your highest priority. If a chore can wait, let it wait. If it’s not that big of a deal, don’t push it.
  • Some things should matter far more than others. If you have a great kid who tries hard in school, is kind and compassionate toward others, and puts forth the effort to abide by your rules, it shouldn’t matter if their bedroom is a little messy or cluttered (as long as it’s not on the verge of becoming a biohazard). 
  • Focus on the good stuff. Try not to get caught up in the trivial things that erode your relationship with your teen. You only have them with you for a little while longer… make the most of this precious time. 

If you enjoyed reading, “Chore Wars: 6 Ways to Get Your Teen to Help Around the House (and Clean Their Bedroom)” You might also enjoy reading:

How to Stop Nagging Your Teen: 10 Doable Tips to Create More Peace in Your Home

Never Say Never: Why Your Teen Needs You to Compromise

Why Not Join Us?
I agree to have my personal information transfered to MailChimp ( more information )
Join over 3.000 visitors who are receiving our newsletter and learn how to optimize your blog for search engines, find free traffic, and monetize your website.
RAISING TEENS TODAY is a resource and safe zone for parents to share the joys, challenges, triumphs and frustrations of raising our oh, so imperfect (but totally awesome) teens. PLUS, sign up and you'll receive my FREE e-Book "Scoring Scholarships!"

You may also like

Leave a Comment