How to Get Boys to do Chores (without complaining)

boys and chores, how to teach gender equality at home, DEI resources for parentsFirst, don't ever call it a "girl" chore. And if your boy says it, you can remind him, gently, that there's so such thing as "girl" chores and "boy" chores. They're just chores. The end.
But what about the incessant whining?
Yeah that. We can help. We put together some ideas for getting him to just do the damn chore already! and cut down on the complaints at the same time.

Boys and Chores: Does Flattery Work?

The good news is that your boy (hopefully) isn't old enough yet to know what you're doing when you say things like "but you're so good at it!"
Here's an example. If your son is throws a fit because you asked him to empty the dishwasher, you could say something like "You're the only one who knows where everything goes."

Or if he rolls his eyes when you ask him to feed the baby, you could say something like "I know I can trust you because you have so much empathy and you're so gentle and kind to him/her." Try it. It works. 


Boys Need a Chores Role Model

Sorry dads -- this one's on you.

boys and chores, how to teach gender equality at home, DEI resources for parentsIf the work in your house is divided along traditional gender roles with the dad doing traditional "boy" chores like repair and maintenance, and the mom doing the "girl" chores like cooking and cleaning, this is what your boy will pick up and carry with him into adulthood.

Even the little stuff is making more of an impression on him than you think. You'd be surprised what kids notice. Things like:

  • Who drives on family outings?
  • Who pays at restaurants?
  • Who contributes to household income?
  • Who goes to parent/teacher conferences?
  • Who chaperones school field trips?
  • Who does the family laundry?

But hold on. It is possible to change things up, switch roles, and make fairness part of the household routine. For example, if you've been doing the laundry exclusively and hubby's been doing the driving, flip it around. The goal is to show boys (not just tell them) that chores are gender neutral.

Don't wait though. Your boy (most likely) still looks up to you and respects your guidance. Plus, you'll be contributing to gender equality by teaching an important DEI value at home! 

TIP: Whining/complaining is how kids express frustration. Try to turn it into a teachable moment by acknowledging that they feel frustrated. Granted, doing this takes waaaay more patience than most of us have, but if you can, tell him that if the complaining continues you're going to have to ignore him. This usually gets them to stop because kids hate being ignored. Do it consistently. 

Boys Chore Assignments

Try to refrain from assigning him outside chores exclusively. There's nothing wrong with him saying he'd rather feed the baby or do the sewing than mow the lawn.

Of course, you know your boy's limits and abilities better than anyone. Just try to find something he can do that's not a typical male chore. Here's a list you can choose from:  
    • Empty the dishwasher
    • Wash the dishes
    • Make the dinner salad
    • Organize the grocery list
    • Feed the family pet(s)
    • Set the table
    • Vacuum
    • Sew
    • Sweep
    • Learn to use the washing machine and dryer
    • Fold laundry
    • Pick up clutter
    • Dust
    • Help care for baby and/or ailing grandparent
    If your boy complains about his tasks, listen to his complaints, and ask how he would make it more equitable (without saddling you with more work or expense).

    Talk about it together. You might find that if he feel like he's part of the conversation, his willingness to help will increase. Here's to success!

    More Resources

    If you found this article helpful, please check out How to Teach Boys to be Fair to Girls. It's a concise guidebook for parents that's full of more ideas and instructions for cultivating gender equality at home.

    Leave a comment

    Please note, comments must be approved before they are published