Game It Up!

I taught a babysitting course to grade six students this spring. There were three very important rules we went over at the beginning of each class which had to do with basic child safety. The fourth most important thing I taught the soon-to-be-babysitters is how to interact with the kids. I taught them how to use games to encourage kids to do what they need to do.

I use this technique myself with great success, especially with my younger children. Turn rules that need to be followed and tasks that need to get done into a game and everyone is happier!

Here are some tried and true games that will help engage your child and get them to complete your requests faster than you can imagine.

Race Me!

One of the easiest ways I can get my most stubborn child to do something they don’t want to do is to race them. Don’t want to get dressed in the morning? I bet I can beat you!

Don’t want to take out the garbage? Can you do it in less than 30 seconds? I bet you can’t do it faster than your brother who took it out last week!

Of course, this can get old and it can’t be used in every situation, but it is a fun tool for both parent and child when dealing with unwanted chores.


When it comes to doing chores like cleaning up toys, I like to get them to clean up the toys in categories. Maybe by colour or maybe by type.

“Let’s pick up all the yellow toys!”

Or, “Janie can put Lego into this bucket. And Jimmy can put PlayMobil into this bucket.”

I also use small buckets so they can fill them up quickly and then dump them into a bigger bucket. Small successes like filling up a small bucket and then dumping like a Backhoe into the bigger container can turn clean up into a game.

Crank It Up!

Another great way to make chores more enjoyable is to play some fun, upbeat music. Crank up the tunes, throwing in a little dancing, and cleaning up suddenly doesn’t seem so bad! We like to take song suggestions in our house. Each child involved in the activity gets to choose a song and we keep taking turns picking songs until we’re all done the job.

Recipe for Tool #10 :


  • A child
  • A job that needs to get done
  • A parent with creativity and a desire to have fun (the job doesn’t matter in the long run, enjoy the process and the results will follow)

Step 1 – Stop the Sour Face

When issuing a chore or task that needs to be done and your child turns up their nose, turn it into a fun challenge. You know what they don’t like to do. Start brainstorming and plan the next game or challenge you’ll play when it’s time for that chore or task.

Step 2 – Have Fun!

Be silly, play good music, dance a little, and refuse to let their negative attitude bring them down. Studies prove that physical activity improves our mood, so get moving! The faster you can get going, the better.

Step 3 – Repeat and Rewire

Science says that the more frequently you perform two positive experiences together, the sooner you can rewire your brain to learn a new way of thinking about that experience. Make a dreaded chore fun and you will teach your child that chores don’t have to be awful!

Have fun with your kids. The more fun you have with them, the stronger your relationship will grow and the more good memories you will each store up.


HB is a roller coaster father, one minute he is ecstatic about his children, the next he wonders if life will ever get any better. A long standing member of the 'I yell at my kids' club, he writes with passion and an analytical mind. Dissecting and separating the nuanced strategies that make a good parent great. He experiments with parenting techniques on his 3 year old so you don't have to.

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