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How to Motivate Your Kids to Help in the Yard

A woman and young boy watering a garden with a hose.

Doing yard work is one of life’s many responsibilities, and it’s a good lesson to teach your children. Some take to it like ducks to water—mowing the lawn has sparked many future landscaping careers. Others, however, need a bit more motivation, which is why you might need these helpful hints to get them out there mowing and raking.

The tips below will help you teach your kids how to do yard chores right. You’ll also find a few suggestions to motivate them to get yard chores done. One day, when they have a yard of their own, they’ll thank you!

Teach Them the Importance of Yard Work

From preventing weeds from choking your produce or flowers to keeping the lawn looking trimmed and nice, there are many important reasons to do yard work.

Kids often understand more than you think they do, so just explain to them why you have to keep up with the following yard chores:

  • Gardening: Whether you have a flower bed or vegetable garden, it’s the perfect opportunity to get the kids involved in outdoor chores. They’ll also learn how to grow their own food. Let them help with the planting and picking, or have them check plants for bugs.
  • Watering plants: It doesn’t rain every day, so it’s important to teach kids about the things plants need to grow. This includes water, food, and sunlight. When you’re gardening with them, you’ll teach them these things as well as what happens when plants are overwatered.
  • Weeding: Weeds can prevent flowers from blooming or your garden from producing as many fruits and vegetables as you’d like. Teach your kids to recognize the different weeds that grow in your garden so they can help pull them.
  • Good weeds: There are also good weeds like dandelions. Teach your children why dandelions are good for bees. Milkweed is another one you’ll want them to recognize, as it’s the only thing Monarch butterfly caterpillars eat.
  • Mowing: Mowing your lawn regularly keeps your grass healthy and reduces the number of nasty bugs in your yard. Taller, unkempt grass attracts more mosquitoes and ticks, making it less fun for kids to play outside.
  • Raking mowed grass: If your lawnmower doesn’t have a grass bag, you might want to send your kids out to rake up the mowed grass. Leaving it spread over the lawn prevents the sunlight from reaching all of your yard, which can lead to brown, dead grass, which also hurts little bare feet.
  • Raking leaves: Keeping the leaves raked in the autumn allows the grass to get those last bits of sunlight before it’s blanketed in snow. Plus, what kid doesn’t love jumping into colorful, crunchy piles of leaves?
  • Shoveling snow: This chilly job has its benefits. It helps you get to the ice below, so you can salt it and prevent someone from slipping and hurting themselves. It also ensures your mail gets delivered, and that you can get your car out of the driveway. Plus, those shoveled piles supply hours of snowman building!

Of course, this outdoor lesson should also include safety. Lawnmowers and trimmers can be quite dangerous when they’re not used correctly. You’ll want to impress upon your kids that they aren’t toys.

You’ll also want to teach your kids to dress appropriately for the chore they’re doing. They’ll need a heavy coat, snow boots, gloves, and a hat and scarf when they’re shoveling snow. When gardening and pulling weeds, they’ll need a good pair of gardening gloves.

Start at a Young Age

A woman and little boy watering a garden with a hose.

While your 2-year-old is too small to use a rake, he can still help out with some chores. Little ones can learn to pull weeds, plant seeds, or pick peas and strawberries. Kids who are older, but not big enough to run the lawnmower yet, can rake leaves and shovel snow.

Younger children will need more supervision than older kids. Once your child is in his (or her) teens, you can put him on a regular mowing rotation and not have to be outside at all while he’s doing the work.

Many kids who enjoy yard work and lawn mowing start earning money by mowing neighbors’ lawns or shoveling their driveways.

Start with Simple Jobs

A man showing a little boy how to work a lawnmower.
Pelevina Ksinia/Shutterstock

Don’t expect your child to mow the whole lawn alone the first few times. And, of course, you wouldn’t send your 4-year-old out alone to weed the entire garden. She’ll need to know which plants are weeds and which are vegetables first, so start simple.

If you have a tomato patch, show your child which plants are the tomatoes, then have him pull out everything else. When you give a child one area to work in, you increase their chances of success, which can help them enjoy the task a bit more.

Also, when your children first start doing yard work, try not to be overly critical of any mistakes they might make. If you scold your child for mowing down the rose bush, he or she isn’t going to want to mow the lawn ever again. Just explain what they did wrong so they can learn from it.

Make sure they also take breaks. While you might be fine with spending hours in your garden, kids can get bored quickly. Let them take a 15-minute break every half hour or so to play and just be kids.

Offer a Reward

Older kids are more likely to be bribed with money for doing yard work, and there’s nothing wrong with paying your child an allowance for doing chores. For younger kids, though, you’ll have to get more creative.

One thing you can do is offer timeline rewards. For example, if they pull weeds in the garden every weekend for a month without complaining, they can pick out a new toy. Or, if they do their yard chore all summer, they can pick a theme park to go to over Labor Day weekend.

Yard chores are often hard work, but they’re also important skills to learn. The younger they are when you start teaching them about lawn and garden care, the more equipped your kids will be when they own their own home one day.

While the kids are working on the lawn, you can jazz up your outdoor space with some cool accent lights.

Yvonne Glasgow Yvonne Glasgow
Yvonne Glasgow is a professional writer with two decades of experience. She has written and edited for nutritionists, start-ups, dating companies, SEO firms, newspapers, board game companies, and more. Yvonne is a published poet and short story writer, and she is a life coach. Read Full Bio »
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