9 Simple Tips for Implementing Farm Chores for Kids

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9 Simple Tips for Implementing Farm Chores for Kids | Faithful FarmwifeTips for setting appropriate home and farm chores for kids

I might be going out on a limb here, but I feel like most parents want to raise children who turn into responsible adults that understand the value of hard work. This is a difficult goal to accomplish in a society that is focused on instant gratification and minimizing effort. Kids often respond to parents’ chore requests with “ugh”, “I’ll do it later”, or some other sassy remark. So how can you go about assigning kids’ chores in your home in a way that will instill a strong work ethic instead of burning them out?


Implementing Farm Chores for Kids

Giving paid and non-paid chores is a great way to teach responsibility and money management to your kids. This post is mostly focused toward younger (10 and under) kids, but if you have older children, you can help them to get their own summer job or start a small business to teach these same principles.

Tips for Setting Appropriate Kids’ Chores

1. Start young

Although adults may not remember specific events from their younger, formative years, this is when you start building a child’s character, for better or worse. We have a tendency to believe that just because a child is young, they shouldn’t help. A movement has started to keep kids away from responsibility, and underestimate them, until it is far too late to form good habits.Girl feeding horses | 9 Simple Tips for Implementing Farm Chores for Kids | Faithful Farmwife

2. Know abilities by age

Along with saying that it is important to start your kids’ chores at an early age, you have to make sure that their tasks are age specific. Putting a child into a situation that they cannot handle (especially with farm chores), either physically or mentally, will only lead to resentment and discouragement.Boy raking leaves out of garden bed | 9 Simple Tips for Implementing Farm Chores for Kids | Faithful Farmwife

3. Safety First

Obviously, you’re not going to be sending out your toddler to feed cows alone but always keep safety in mind. If a chore has a potential to be more dangerous, like working with large or potentially aggressive stock, then keep that farm chore for yourself or accompany your child to ensure safety.

At our farm, my son did not start feeding the horses alone until he was a lot older, and had been riding and working with them for years. By now he not only knew safety around them, but how to gauge their body language as well. When we had dairy goats, he was NEVER allowed into the pen with the bucks. The safety of your children should always be your first concern!

4. Encourage

During these younger years, it is quite possible that you will put more effort into helping your child complete their chores than you would have invested by just doing it yourself. Do not be tempted to just “take over” the kids’ chores as this sends a couple of negative messages to your child. One, that they should give up if something is too hard, and two, that someone will always just come and do what they struggle with.Boy falling in washing machine | 9 Simple Tips for Implementing Farm Chores for Kids | Faithful Farmwife

Although not specifically homestead related, my 19-month-old loves to “help” with the laundry. He will pull it out of the dryer for me and put it in the basket, and then “carry” it to my room to fold. As I fold, he takes the items and runs them to their appropriate room. Of course, I end up carrying most of the weight of the basket, and generally moving things to where they really go but that is not the point.

Little girl helping with laundry | 9 Simple Tips for Implementing Farm Chores for Kids | Faithful Farmwife

The point is that I do not insult his efforts or discourage him with my words. As much as I may be trying to hurry through this task myself, I have to remember that this is a vital time to begin developing these habits. Never discourage a willing attitude!

5. Lead by Example

One of the key points to any aspect of raising your child is to lead them by example. It does not matter if it is your attitude during a tough time, or you out working on the kids’ chores with them, kids need to have you as a positive role model. No one is motivated to work when they feel that they are doing it all alone. However, by modeling good, solid work ethics to your children, you can help instill this quality in them now.

Little girl helping with laundry | 9 Simple Tips for Implementing Farm Chores for Kids | Faithful Farmwife

6. Make it simple

Sometimes kids, especially younger children simply do just forget. Do not punish them for something that is an honest mistake. Showing them how to give grace in the midst of frustration is just as important as teaching responsibility. Many kids, even adults, benefit from lists or charts. Make a simple chore chart for your child. You can keep this in the barn, or the house.

Another aspect of making simple home and farm chores is to think about how to make a job easier from a child’s perspective. If your child’s task is feeding the chickens, it may be beneficial to consider a feeder that can be filled from the outside vs. one that has to be retrieved, carried out, and then carried back in with the weight of feed. Not complicating tasks helps to ensure that a child will not become discouraged or burnt out.



7. Appropriate Consequences

Let’s be honest here. All children go through at least some small time of rebellion. We have free will, and children will at some point need to try and exercise that. While that is a normal stage, they have to realize that they are not free from the consequences of rebellion. Of course, I am not advocating anything extreme, but there are ways to get the point across.

My son had a pair of show chickens that he loved. He did well with them at the shows, did project books on them and took great care of them. Despite this, at one point he just went through a phase of rebellion. He didn’t want to feed them, clean their coop, water them or anything. Of course, he still wanted them though because they won him attention and awards at the shows. After several warnings, and long talks, and us caring for his birds, the behavior kept up. From there, we contacted another 4-H student and GAVE the birds away to him.

We chose to give them away so that he would not be rewarded with money from any sale of them.

Although I felt like an awful mother, and he was upset, it got the point across. He has had to wait, and show that he has grown in responsibility in other areas before he was allowed to get any other animals as well. Lesson learned, and we have moved on.

From this, it is also important to say that this is normal and not something that should be brought up time and time again! After a child has learned, and made a conscious effort to grow and not repeat a behavior, we need to drop it. You can’t move forward while looking back. Do not place unnecessary guilt on your children!

8. Help Them Understand

With that being said, make sure your kids understand fully the consequences of not completing their farm chores. During this, my son was old enough to understand the problems that would occur from not feeding an animal, or having them live in a coop that was not maintained. However, you cannot necessarily expect a younger child to fully grasp this. In these cases, you need to take time to explain these correlations to your children, and then make your consequences age appropriate.

If your child cannot grasp this correlation, and you get rid of their animals, all they will see is that you were “mean” to them and that they lose what they work for. For these situations, when it comes to younger children, it may be best to treat this as a learning experience, and not a time to curb rebellion.

9. Keep It FUN!

Motivation is key- even as adults! Do not let your child get discouraged or down. For younger children, find a reward for their efforts. Rewards do not have to be monetary, often the best rewards are simply your time. My children love spending time with the animals, and us. If complete all of the kids’ chores well, a reward may be to brush out their mule, or to spend time outside playing. Never let your children lose their love for being outside or the animals.

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A little about our guest poster:

Muck boots and Munchkins

I am Alexis Griffee, a sleep deprived and coffee fueled homeschool Mom, homesteader, mule rider, military wife, blogger and magazine writer. We own a little farm north of Clovis, New Mexico where we plan on retiring and chasing our agricultural dreams full time. Even through it all, first and foremost, I am a wife and a mother. We are blessed with four beautiful kids, and I am married to my amazing husband of 13 years. Juggling everything can be a challenge at times, but there is nothing I would ever change-well most days anyway.

Where to find her:

My blog and writing focuses on real life homesteading applications and down to earth living. Another focus of my writing is agricultural education and youth involvement. This is something that I am very passionate about! If you’re looking for another, down to earth, family friendly, blog, come on over and pay us a visit at Muckboots and Munchkins. See ya’ll there!

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8 Comments

  1. I totally agree! I have always tried to let my older daughter help, even when I didn’t really want to. (Like dishes! Ugh! I just want to get those done with as quickly as possible!) I’ve recently started a chore chart for her. So far she is doing well with it and doesn’t seem to mind most of the items on out. Oddly enough, she flat out refuses to feed the cats most of the time, which I don’t understand because she loves the cats! Oh well. ha ha I let her have “bonus points” for helping with things that I don’t ask her to help with, like the other day when she helped me feed the pigs. 🙂

    1. Reading your comment reminded me that my son hasn’t fed our bottle kid this morning! I bet she is one unhappy goat 🙁 Sending him out now. Haha! I have found that the more I have the kids pitch in the more they respect me & the things that we are blessed with.

  2. Kids are wonderful creatures by God almighty. What they need more is mentoring. Like you said, they should given task they can handle. Thanks for the info. I will come again for more.

  3. starting young is actually the key, catching them young, teaching/training them young is of paramount important, a stitch in time truly saves nigh. The holy bible says, “Train up a child in the way he should go, when he’s old he will not depart from it”. so it is necessary. Thanks for the info.

  4. Wonderful tips for parents. You summerize things so nicely. If children work in garden or helps in household work, they became sharp, strong, adaptable, etc. You describe many things, what’s parents can do and what not to do with their child. Nice post.

  5. Hi Jess, This article is really informative I like your thinking about children working in the garden that helps them to grow in a stonge and healthy way. What’s parents can do and what not to do with their child. Nice post.
    Thanks

  6. Wow… I’m noting that tip for the future, it is superbly done… I remember back in the days when we get to farmhouse our mom tries to engage us with activities and less with electronics… thinking of today’s its highly needed!

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