Parents today often underestimate or overlook the benefits of getting children involved in household chores. Some parents believe that “children should be children,” while others feel that “I will have to do it over after them, so why should I get them involved in the first place?” Well, chores can teach children wonderful life-skills. They learn to take care of themselves, contribute to their community (family), enhance their self-esteem and develop self-discipline. Research shows how those who were overindulged in childhood by not being required to do household chores experience pain in adulthood due to lack of skills, low self-esteem, and a sense of entitlement.
Chores are part of life – something we don’t really get out of. The earlier children start with taking an active role in maintaining their households, the easier it becomes to keep them involved when they’re older. Parents should have realistic expectations.
1. Younger children have shorter attention spans and cannot do a perfect job of dusting or folding. Keep tasks simple and break it into smaller steps for younger children. Let children master one task before adding another.
2. Every time a child takes on a new chore you need to train and supervise them before they can undertake it alone. Make your expectations clear and take the time to show your child the way you would like things done and the way it should look when it is finished. You may have to stay with your child two or three times before he/she gets it right and can do it on his/her own, but the time spent coaching will be time well spent.
3. Be specific with instructions and remember to add a deadline. E.g. “Clean your room, now please” might mean “put dirty clothes in the laundry basket, pack away toys and books and make up your bed.”
4. Chores should not be related to allowances. For younger children, allow them to choose which chores they do. Later they should have a list of non-negotiable chores, and you could add additional “jobs” for which they could earn an allowance.
5. Most children are physically able to do a task before they have the emotional ability to complete the task alone. Chores can be broken into the following stages:
• The child helps (the parent does most of it, child assists).
• The child completes the task with supervision.
• The child works independently
6. When assigning chores to your children, start with those that involve taking care of his or her own self. Like anything in life, we must learn to be independent before we can become interdependent, and it is much easier for children to do things for themselves than for others.
7. Offer choices – for non-negotiable chores, you could say, “Would you like to make up your bed now, or later?” for negotiable chores, you could say, “Would you like to unpack the dishwasher, or pack it?”
Find an Age Appropriate list of Chores for children