The best way to get children to do chores with a happy and willing heart is to model for them the behavior you want to see. Sing and smile and dance and be cheerful when doing the housework, turn on the happy music, make it look fun. They will copy you. The most important thing is being a model of the smiles and work ethic you want them to have.
See your own work as a privilege and invite them to be part of doing things that you do. With my young ones I will say "I'm not sure if you are big enough to wash dishes." And the reply will be "I'm big enough!" And they will set out to prove it, with pride.
I also reward the kids for excellent work, even a smile from mom, or a handful of berries can be a reward. I want to teach them that quality work is rewarded. I don't have extra money to pay them every time they do an extra job, so instead of buying them everything they need and want, I give them a chance to earn these things. Maybe you plan to buy new bikes for the kids in the future - don't just buy them the bikes, let them help earn the money you are going to spend on the bikes so they will see the results of their labor. Maybe you are going to yard sales this weekend and expect to spend 3 or 4 dollars on toys, let them earn their garage sale money, even 25 cents can go pretty far at a yard sale!
I expect my kids to do their part, just like mom and dad do work to provide for the family. Everyone helps and has specific work to do to make a happy home. But, I will "pay" or give a prize for extra work that is not on our daily chart, like helping to clean out the garage. I have older children who have taken over laundry duty, and this is how they earn a little spending money. If you let your kids play video games or watch movies, you could turn these into earned rewards instead of something they feel entitled to be able to do. We also set goals, if you have my book "Windows to Our World" read the story about Isaac and the Dimes.
I try not to focus on their childish mistakes. Children just do not see what mom sees. They may work their precious little hearts out on a project, with hopes that you will be delighted. But they are deflated and feel like they will never be "good enough" if your first response is criticism. Prise them first, correct them next, praise the last. this is how you would want to be treated, right?
I know that taking the time to train them will pay off later. It may be quicker now to do the work yourself, but let them build these important skills. Not only will they be able to manage their future homes, they will be able to help manage the house when mom is sick or has a new baby. My three oldest can run the house if the need to. There have been times when they have... morning sickness! But they don't see work as a burden. They think it is silly when their friends whine about taking out the trash or loading the dishwasher.
My son, who is 15 volunteered to work at a conference center this past summer, he and his buddy washed over 20,000 dishes. When he came home his eleven year old sister was whining about doing the dishes. His response: "What's the big deal, there are only eleven people!"
To keep work from feeling like drudgery I will give them fun work, like making snacks. I also call their play "work". For example, if they are making something, building Legos, or doing art - I will say "What are your working on?" and praise them for their beautiful work.
I also have a job chart so they will know what is expected of them after each meal when it is time to clean. Each child has an area of the home to work on after each meal. I illustrate the chart with pictures for the little ones.
These are just my ideas for helping children see the value of work, and how I try to model the behavior I want to see in them. I hope this helps!
By Sarah Janisse Brown - Creator of Dyslexia Games & Author of Windows to Our World - Sarah's Journal.