The toys are strewn across the living room, dirty laundry is covering the bathroom floor, and dishes with crusty food are sitting out on the table. You think to yourself, “Wow, I’m so behind on housework.” No, you’re really not behind. You just need to give your children chores.
I know, I know. You want to give your children chores. But your older children are so busy with school, sports, and homework.
Your younger kids just don’t do a good job. You have to clean up after their attempts to clean up. It just doesn’t feel like it’s worth the battle.
Then there is the arguing. Asking your child to do chores usually provokes arguing. Your children complain and protest. Or they just ignore you and you find that it’s easier to let it go and not follow through with your request.
While there are some obstacles in giving children chores, the benefits outweigh the drawbacks. In fact, research from University of Minnesota found the greatest predictor of adulthood success is whether or not children do chores.
Here are nine reasons that it’s important to give your children chores.
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1. Chores teach your child to be self-sufficient and capable.
You are raising your children to be adults. You want them to move out of the house and go to college or get a job. You want them to contribute to the greater good and you want them to financially support themselves. You also want them to be able to take care of themselves.
Chores are all learned skills. They need to be modeled and explicitly taught. You remember the person on your floor of the dorm who had no idea how to do the laundry during her freshman year of college? You want your child to walk into that laundry room with confidence.
Children need a lot of time to learn to do chores and a lot of opportunities to practice. Waiting until the summer before college to learn laundry is too late. It won’t give your child adequate time to master the skills so you need to give your children chores now.
2. Chores develop work ethic
Again, you’re raising children to be adults. Work ethic is the belief that work has an inherent value. Children need to have a solid work ethic prior to adulthood.
Successful adults embrace work rather than trying to avoid it. They recognize how certain work can be good, valuable, and purposeful. Sure, you don’t love doing that laundry or making dinner every night, but you do it out of a sense of purpose and responsibility as a parent.
Chores help children get to feel the satisfaction of a job completed and that develops and reinforces a work ethic.
3. Chores reduces entitlement
Many chores are physical labor. They are the grunt work necessary to daily living – cleaning, preparing food, tidying after meals, laundry, and yard work are a few.
Modern children get the message that their homework or sports practice is more important than doing chores. This makes them believe that chores are “below them.” This can create a sense of entitlement – the feeling that their life should be free of challenges, obstacles, or burdens.
When you clean up after your child or bail them out for incomplete chores, children can develop a sense of entitlement. Other people need to do the grunt work, not them. This could lead them to be more resistant to doing the grunt work they need to do at the start of their careers.
Chores create responsibility, and responsibility is the antidote to entitlement.
4. Chores increase problem-solving skills
Your child accidentally splashes water all over the kitchen floor when it’s her turn to do the dishes. Now, she gets an opportunity to solve a completely manageable, real-life problem.
The water mess is a small, safe problem. Chances are your child will notice the splashed water and figure out to wipe it up with the hand towel on her own.
It’s also your child’s job to bring in groceries. The bag rips and apples spill all over. Your child will learn that next time, he needs to carry the bag with two hands.
Chores give children opportunities to solve real problems in a safe environment.
5. Chores provide a bonding opportunity for parents and children
Toddlers and preschoolers naturally like helping. Most love to spend time with their parents and mimic the work that adults do. My toddler pretends he’s a landscaper all day long. He runs to the laundry room when he hears me start to load the washer. Most children love to work.
When your children can participate in housework alongside of you it communicates that both your child and the work are valuable. It also communicates that your child is just as important at the housework.
Sure it’s more efficient to do chores without your children, but the research showed at the University of Minnesota demonstrated that it is best to teach children chores starting around age 3.
6. Chores teach your children they are part of a community
Your children do not live in isolation. They live in a family, an interdependent community where one person’s contributions can make a positive or negative impact on the family.
You contribute to the family by caring for the children, working and doing housework. Your children also help out because everyone has a role to support the family.
7. Chores build empathy and gratitude
When children do chores and see the positive impact of helping other, it builds their desire to be kind. It gives them the ability to think about what someone else is going through. For example, if your child is in charge of the dishes, he will begin to see the impact of grabbing the fifth cup of the day.
Furthermore, it helps them to appreciate what other people do for them. When they spend ten minutes loading the dishwasher, they’ll have more gratitude for having the clean dishes.
8. Chores give children practice with motor skills
Children need many opportunities to work with a variety of objects to develop their fine and gross motor skills. Fine motor skills are the small movements like manipulating silverware in your child’s hands to set the table. Gross motor skills are the larger movements like carrying a plate with leftover food from the table to the kitchen sink.
Matching socks and placing toys in a basket are examples of fine motor skills. Pulling the covers up on the bed or carrying a heavy bag of groceries also improves gross motor skills.
9. Chore give sensory input
Doing chores gives children sensory feedback back. Children need lots of different types of experiences with their body to be able to control it. Pushing a heavy laundry and carrying in a bag of groceries give children a better sense of where their body is in space.
When children wash dishes or scrub a table with a sponge, their body also gets a tactile experience that can increase their sensory regulation. Many different chores provide children with a sensory experience and give our children the different input they need to develop their awareness of personal space and to keep them calm.
Developmentally Appropriate Chore Chart
I’ve taken out the guesswork for you with a Developmentally Appropriate Chore Chart you can print out. You can laminate it and let your children check off the completed tasks with washable dry erase marker.
Make sure you choose the correct tools. Of course, you don’t want you 2 or 3 year old using your fine china, but he can certainly carry his plastic plate to the sink. Similarly, you might want to purchase Swiffer products for your child to wet or dry mop or a similar microfiber reusable product.
Your child can do a variety of chores, and those chores will set your child up for a more successful life. Grab your free printable here.