Your 4R Response Plan:

Motivating Children to Do Chores

Follow the 4R Response Method to create your custom plan that will help you to foster more responsible behavior. 

How to Use This Page

Watch this video to learn how to make the most of this resource

Download Your 4R Response Plan

Click here or on the graphic below to download the 4R Response Plan template that you’ll complete for dealing with schoolwork issues in your home. 

Watch the videos below for ideas about what to consider at each step. You’ll also see a summary of my suggestions below the video. 

Questions? Come to the 4R Response Method Practice Sessions or fill out this form to ask questions! (I’ll answer forms in the live practice session and email the recording to you.)


REDUCE YOUR YUCK Around Children & Chores

Even though we’re talking about motivating better behavior in your children, we want to start by reducing your Yuck. You already know that if you approach them when you’re in Yuck, they won’t be motivated to do what you ask! 

Here are some examples of how you can reduce your Yuck by reducing the threat.

The behavior is not a threat because

  • It’s really just your child acting like a child. (They’re not motivated by the same things we are!) 
  • It makes sense  for them to act this way when their Yuck is bigger than their coping skills. They don’t feel like cleaning and they haven’t mastered the executive functioning skills to do it anyway… or respond maturely when you remind them to do what they don’t feel like cleaning. 

You can handle it because

  • One action that is in your control is to see their response differently — recognizing that their resistance is not a threat. 
    You also have the power to learn more about the skills that are required for them to act more mature and responsible… and teach them those skills.  

Instead of believing this behavior is bad and using willpower to address the situation, use your Avatar to think about how you want to handle it! 


RESPOND EFFECTIVELY To Motivate Children to Do Chores

Now we’ll build your response when dealing with children who aren’t pitching in

Responding effectively is about managing Yuck. Recognizing that their strong-willed behavior is a symptom of their Yuck (even though it doesn’t look like it!) can help to reduce YOUR Yuck and theirs. 

First, you want to make sure you have a when-then statement to address your own Yuck. Obviously this statement is personal to you.

When creating a when-then statement for responding to your child, you might want to

  • see them by recognizing that their perspective matters. (This does NOT mean you’re agreeing with them!) Seeing them will NOT immediately snap them out of it, but showing them that you’re on the same team will allow them to access the responsible part of their brain more quickly.
  • teach them how to do something they don’t feel like doing. (But honestly, if they’re already in Yuck because they have to clean, they’re not likely to want to try your strategy.)

If they’re too deep in Yuck, neither of these strategies will work… and you might need to get firm so that they travel the Yuck Curve and get back to a non-Yuck state. Note that they will get out of Yuck more quickly when YOU are regulated.

Once they have traveled the Yuck Curve and released all of the Yuck, they can access the “responsible” part of their brain again and do what they  need to do.



When-then statements when motivating a child to do chores

Say this, not that to motivate children to do chores


Identify ROADBLOCKS for Children Who Aren't Doing Chores

Let’s identify WHY your child isn’t doing their chores, even when they know they’re supposed to

Remember that roadblocks are usually related to your Expectations, their missing Skills, or their Yuck. In this case, I’m starting with Yuck- and skill-based roadblocks to demonstrate why our expectations may be unrealistic.

 Our expectations are roadblocks:

  • We believe that because they’re physically capable of doing something, they should do it. We don’t recognize (or care) that they haven’t mastered certain skills yet… so we’re setting them up for failure
  • We approach them from a place of Yuck and make the situation worse

When it comes to chores, they are missing the skills to

  • Persist when something is not engaging their attention. Instead, they will be distracted by whatever is more engaging, or they will avoid the task altogether, at any cost
  • Control their impulses. Instead, they are drawn to what feels good in that moment
  • Transition effectively. They have a hard time stopping one activity to start another (especially if that other one is not engaging their attention!) 

They also may have Yuck that causes roadblocks:

  • They feel out of control because we want them to do things they don’t want to do, and they feel powerless to do anything about it 
  • They feel disconnected because they feel like most of what comes out of our mouth is a direction or a nag

    Remember to choose ONE roadblock that you have the desire and energy to tackle now. You can come back to the others later!

    Build Your ROUTINES to Motivate Children to Do Chores

    Now we’ll identify proactive ROUTINE (that you can take action on!) that will start to foster more responsible behavior to begin with

    Consider these routines to address the roadblock you choose:

    Expectations-based Routines

    Skill-based Routines

    Yuck-based Routines


    Sample Completed 4R Response Plans for Motivating Children to Do Chores

    Want some examples? Check out these completed plans:


    Extra Resources

    If you’ve got your plan, but want to learn even more strategies for what causes this behavior, and how to deal with it, I’ve included videos and podcast episodes for you below:

    Document: Making Tasks Engaging

    Video: How to Get Children to Do Chores

    Video: A Tip to Reduce Power Struggles Over Devices and Chores

    Podcast: When You Can’t Get Your Kids to Clean (Or Do Other “Boring” Chores)

    Podcast: How to Improve Your Influence by Being On the Same Team

    Podcast: How to Be a Strong Leader So Kids Know You’re In Charge




    Past Questions from Other Parents

    Want to see what other parents have already asked about raising strong willed children? I’ve linked to some past questions and answers below.

    Child stalls through daily routines