Written by Stacey Kelleher.
If keeping your home neat and tidy is one of your new year’s resolutions, consider making it a team effort by getting the kids involved. When children participate in household chores, your load is lighter and their self-esteem gets a boost as well.
University of Mississippi researcher Marty Rossman studied a group of children over a 25-year period to see how doing chores as early as age 3 and 4 could predict future success. Her results were significant. Adults who had chores as young children were more likely to foster better relationships with family and friends and enjoy greater success in their chosen careers.
The benefits of chores for kids of all ages are far-reaching. Household participation offers:
Research confirms what you may already suspect: chores play an important role in fostering essential emotional and physical life skills. The benefits are immeasurable.
So you agree that chores are good for your child’s well-being, but where should you begin? How do you know what’s reasonable and fair to ask of your children -- especially tweens and teens whose schedules are already overloaded with schoolwork and extracurricular activities?
Our printable kids’ chore chart is a great place to start. We’ve broken down common household tasks by age and grade. Use our suggestions as a starting point to customize your own chore schedule for your family’s needs.
Children are much more eager to do chores when they’re involved in the process of choosing and assigning them. Consider scheduling regular “family meetings” to discuss what jobs are important and who should do them. Family meetings can be light and fun - a chance for everyone to share their thoughts. When kids know their opinion matters, chores won’t feel like a punishment or a burden.
The way parents feel about their daily responsibilities has a big impact on how kids see their own household tasks. If you dread house cleaning, your kids likely will too. So even if there are days when the last thing you want to do is laundry, try modeling a positive outlook on household chores. Your kids will often follow your lead.
Parents often have good intentions of including the kids in household chores, but end up taking over to make sure they get everything done “right.” Teach your children how to do each job and give them time to learn and practice -- without worrying if they’re doing it just so. This is especially true for toddlers and elementary school-age kids. It’s more about being involved and giving back to the family, and less about folding every last shirt and sock perfectly.
Giving kids an allowance for completing chores is a personal choice. Some parents feel helping with the upkeep of the house and caring for their belongings is enough of a reward itself. They believe chores are just a part of helping the home run smoothly. If you agree, you might want to separate chores from allowance and find some other system for offering kids a financial incentive so they can learn about saving and managing their money.
Other parents and guardians equate allowance with a paycheck. When we don’t go to work or we slack on the job, we don’t get paid. So kids that overlook chores miss out their weekly or monthly allowance. Another option is rewarding cooperative kids with other privileges -- maybe a playdate with a friend, or a trip to the playground, for example. Only you know what system works best for your family.
In her book, The Gift of Failure: How the Best Parents Learn to Let Go so Their Children Can Succeed, New York Times columnist and school teacher Jessica Lahey says that household participation gives kids a sense of purpose and that purpose is “what fuels the determination, resourcefulness, and resolve that will see our children through to their goals.”
Your kids (especially your tweens and teens) may moan and groan about picking up their room or doing the dishes, but they will come away feeling a sense of accomplishment and purpose -- even if they’re too proud to admit it.
Puracy can help you make quick work of your weekly chores. Check out these previous posts to learn the best way to tackle household messes: