3 Tips for Getting Kids to Wash Dishes
No doubt about it, getting kids to wash dishes is hard.
Because every kid is different, it’s good to have a range of ideas up your sleeve.
See which one works for you...
1. Teach ‘em while they’re young
According to Harvard University's Center on the Developing Child, kids at an early age are highly interested in novel events. They are curious, playful, eager to learn, and motivated to engage with achievable goals.
Inconveniently for parents everywhere, a child’s interest in performing household chores usually peaks (and alas, disappears!) before they are physically able to perform those chores proficiently.
However, if you want to instill a positive attitude toward doing the dishes, you should never shoo your toddler away when they want to help.
Instead, as soon as the interest in chores appears, seize the day. Handing them a dish sponge to lather up their own cup and plate can be just the right thing (here’s the perfect natural dish sponge for your family – it’s biodegradable and compostable).
It’s best to lower your expectations about how much they can actually help you. You will probably have to re-wash the child’s dishes (out of their sight!) after they’re done. But don’t give up.
Doesn’t this create more work for you, rather than less? Sure, but only in the short run.
Remember: you’re playing the long game. Clean dishes, at this stage, aren’t the point.
The point is to start early so you won’t have to struggle with their resistance years later. Look at it as a future investment.
As they get older, your kids will have a sense of contributing something of value: a feeling of satisfaction in contributing to a family ritual. It also builds a habit that they can maintain as they grow, when their dish-washing efforts can make a genuine contribution to the family’s chores.
A University of Michigan survey discovered that most parents see themselves as an obstacle to their children’s independence by not giving them more responsibility.
No reason to be like that.
Let your kids do their dishes from a young age.
Kids was dishes tip #2: Cut them some slack
As we saw, sometimes kids (at any age) don’t do as careful of a job washing the dishes as you might like.
But according to researchers at Michigan State University, this is an excellent teachable moment.
An observational study published in the Journal of Pediatric Health Care revealed that parents criticized their children 3 times more than they praised them.
While criticism can easily spark a negative attitude toward washing the dishes, a 2002 study confirmed that genuine praise increases children’s motivation.
A group of Dutch researchers discovered that sincere positive feedback fosters intrinsic motivation that encourages repeating a task in the future.
Something to the effect of “You’re really making the dishes sparkle” or “Thank you so much for helping me out – you saved me so much time”, makes kids feel appreciated and promotes continuous household contribution.
They’ll be more likely to help you out in the future.
And those poorly-washed dishes?
Without making a big deal about the spots they’ve missed, show them a technique to improve their dish-washing skills (here's a post for that).
That way, they’ll save face, and the small excitement of learning a “new trick” will reinforce their motivation.
Kids wash dishes tip #3: Work as a team
Some kids are social, and enjoy doing things with other people. For a social kid, having to do a chore alone can feel like a bummer.
There’s a way around that. Use that chore for creating a joint activity.
Instead of sending off your kid to the kitchen, build an opportunity for them to recognize the joy of working together.
Things such as “Thanks for your help – many hands make light work. We make a great team!” can be highly satisfying for your kids to hear.
And if you have a daughter, and her dad is in the picture, he should do the dishes with her.
A study at the University of British Columbia discovered that girls whose fathers help out with chores at home tend to aspire to higher-paying careers.
Who thought doing the dishes with your child could go so far?
Now you know how to get kids to wash dishes
There’s one more thing to keep in mind.
Kids’ growing bodies are especially sensitive to toxins.
Did you know that most dish soaps are packed with toxins, including carcinogens?
That’s why you should choose an all-natural dish soap with ingredients that are 100% safe.
Learn more about the dangers of conventional dish soap by watching this video:
But what you and your kids need is...
And no other harmful ingredients.
You can check out a product that meets all of these requirements here.
(When you make a purchase from links in this post we might receive a small commission at no additional cost to you.)