Does your tween find every excuse in the book for why he is not available when it comes to doing chores? This can be very frustrating, especially during the holiday season when you need help from your tween the most. This is the time of year you should be enjoying family, not emptying your medicine cabinet of all headache relief medication.

In order to avoid the typical exasperated sigh which is usually accompanied by the shameful “I’m busy” response, assign chores your tween will actually enjoy doing. Here are some creative ideas to encourage your tween to get involved in the holiday preparations and lighten your load.

Foster Team Work

Caitlin and Andrew Friedman, authors of the upcoming book “Family Inc: Office-Inspired Solutions to Reduce the Chaos in Your Home (and Save Your Sanity!)” (Penguin/Tarcher, January 2013), advise, “Scheduling is important so teens and tweens don’t feel put upon. Post a daily schedule of responsibilities in the kitchen. This way everyone knows what is expected of them and that there is an even distribution of work.” Working as a team with your tweens instead of making demands is also crucial. “Consider bringing your tween into the family planning by discussing what needs to be done,” the Friedmans explain. They also suggest allowing tweens to choose their chores because this provides them with a sense of ownership of their work—a catalyst to a positive attitude.

Ken Damato, CEO of, an online site dedicated to educating families about organization and money management, agrees that pre-teens work best when parents respect their ideas and opinions. “The best way parents can encourage them to have a positive attitude towards chores is by including their input. Discussing what types of chores need to be done and which chores they enjoy can help make them more positive about the whole experience. Pre-teens and teens like to have a sense of control, and including them in the process will encourage a positive attitude,” Damato says.

Chores They Enjoy

The Friedmans offer, “Most kids, even teenagers, like to help cook. During the holidays, there is a lot of cooking to get done. Additionally, pre-teens like to set up (not breakdown), so give them the job of setting the table.”

As a teen, Damato recalls that he liked everything neat and organized, so any kind of chore that involved rearranging and re-creating a space was a good choice for him. After conducting in-depth surveys about chores, Damato’s staff proposes the following options:

Setting up holiday decorations: It’s easy for people of all ages to get into the holiday spirit when it involves setting up lights, decorating the tree or simply wrapping presents. Because these chores are unique to the season, tweens will be more willing to help out.

Donate or sell personal belongings: Have your kids go through closets and take out clothing and sporting equipment that is no longer worn or used to donate to charity. This emphasizes the importance of charitable giving and gives them a sense of accomplishment. Pre-teens might also sell their gently worn items to a consignment shop and use the proceeds to purchase gifts for family and friends.

Incorporate Technology: Tweens are undeniably tech savvy and enjoy using technology to help out at home. After the holidays, ask your them to create a spreadsheet of your holiday card list (sent and received). This will prove to be a big time saver for next year! Tweens can also help set up new electronics or game systems.

Still stumped for ideas? Suggest these tween-friendly chores that match likes and abilities, so she will be more apt to help out:

  • Crafty tweens—make ornaments or fresh wreaths
  • Tween chefs—prepare dinner on nights parents are out shopping
  • Tech savvy pre-teens—send digital cards/photos to friends and relatives
  • Camera buffs—set up and take the family holiday photo
  • Future caregivers—watch younger siblings for an afternoon so parents can run errands
  • Future vets—groom the family pet

Myrna Beth Haskell is a feature writer, columnist and author of the newly released book, "LIONS and TIGERS and TEENS: Expert advice and support for the conscientious parent just like you" (Unlimited Publishing LLC): Available at: and For details: