We were taught that chores were a form of punishment, so it’s no surprise we’ve passed this lesson along to our kids. But it’s time to change our attitude toward chores – they’re beneficial for children!
Raise your hand if you ever thought of your childhood chores as punishment.
(*Raises hand) Totally guilty!
Little did I know just how these chores were benefiting me.
Although the research is not new, I recently stumbled across a study that found children who were given household chores at an early age were more likely to be “well-adjusted, have better relationships with friends and family and be more successful in their careers.” Why? It seems that pitching in as a family helped these children develop empathy, responsibility and self-reliance.
Perhaps we should all pick up the phone right now to call our parents and thank them for the household obligations of our youth.
While this is just one study, I don’t need much convincing to start thinking about how I can encourage my son to help out in our home (just looking around the house takes care of that…...).To my delight, he loves helping me load the dishwasher and vacuum the rugs. He is excited to make his own contribution and asks to be my assistant often.
Additional research and surveys have shown that household chores are now on the decline. This may be due to a rise in extracurricular activities and the general “busyness” found in our culture today.
Perhaps we have forgotten that both parents and children benefit if chores are made a priority in the home. To make the tasks less of a bore, there are a few tips you may want to consider:
- Start Young: Children as young as three can help with tasks such as sorting laundry, making the bed and feeding the pets. If they continue to help consistently, chores will become part of their daily routine. Plus, chore charts and stickers are fun!
- Make it a Family Affair: Help your children clean their bedrooms on occasion and catch up on their day. Put on some music and tackle the after-dinner kitchen disaster together.
- Teach them: Just asking a child to dust the living room may not get the job done. Take the time to adequately show your child how the task is done and what is expected.
- Make it Fun: See who can clean their room the fastest. Set up a scavenger hunt with tiny treats and clues around the areas that your child will be completing chores. Let your child decorate their own cleaning supply bag or bucket.
- Evaluate: Try to find tasks that are well-suited to your child. What skills will truly benefit them? What are they ready to learn?
- Collaborate: Remember to let your children have some say in their chore schedule and the potential for allowance too. *You may consider NOT linking chores completed to financial gain for more emphasis on the other benefits of doing household chores for the family.
- Re-Evaluate: As children get older, don’t forget to re-evaluate how they will pitch in.
- Make it a Priority: Staying firm will emphasize the importance of your child’s chores. If they sense you don’t care about chore completion some weeks, they may demonstrate more resistance when completing them.
Bottom Line: We can’t do everything for our children forever. One day they will go to college and need to know how to do their own laundry. We hope that our children will be successful, helpful and respectful. Regular household chores may just be one way to ensure these things come true!
Photo Credit: David D./Flickr