Sometimes parents wonder if they should really give their kids chores. After all, isn’t it the parents’ responsibility to manage the household? And don’t kids need an opportunity to ‘just be kids’ for now because they have the rest of their lives to worry about chores?
Most kids have really busy schedules too. They rush around from one activity to the next with little time to clean the house or mow the lawn.
Despite those concerns, however, giving your child chores may be one of the most important things you’ll ever do. Kids who do chores learn responsibility and gain important life skills that will serve them well throughout their lives.
Benefits Kids Gain from Doing Chores
While assigning your kids chores can certainly take some of the strain off you, that’s not the only reason you should expect your kids to pitch in around the house. Studies show chores are good for children.
Research from a well-known 75-year Harvard study examined the childhood psychosocial variables and biological processes that predicted health and well-being later in life.1 Researchers concluded that kids who had chores fared better later in life. Chores were the best predictor of which kids were more likely to become happy, healthy, independent adults.2
Why is sweeping the floor and clearing the table so important to kids’ well-being in life? One reason is that kids feel competent when they do their chores. Whether they’re making their bed or they’re sweeping the floor, helping out around the house helps kids feel capable.
Doing chores also helps kids feel like they’re part of the team. Pitching in and helping family members is good for them and it encourages them to be good citizens.
Chores for Preschoolers
Preschool children can be given simple chores that involve picking up after themselves. Chores should include picking up their toys each day. They can also begin to learn how to pick up their room and put their dishes away after a meal.
Young children respond well to sticker charts to help remind them to do their chores. Since preschoolers usually can’t read, a chart with pictures of each chore can jog their memory about what they need to be doing.
After your child completes a chore, put a sticker on the chart. For young children, the sticker can be a good incentive. Older children may need bigger rewards to stay motivated.
Chores for School-Age Children
Once children begin attending school, their responsibility with chores should increase as well. School-age children should continue to do chores that involve picking up after themselves. For example, teach your kids to put their shoes and backpacks away when they get home from school.
Gradually add new chores to your child’s chore list. As chores become more complex, teach them in a step-by-step manner how to do each task.
For example, if a child is expected to put his own clothes away, teach him where to put the clothes and discuss your expectations. Praise his effort and encourage him to keep practicing. Don’t expect perfection.
Chores for Tweens
Tweens can start learning how to take on more responsibility. Cleaning the bathroom, sweeping the floors, and dusting might be some of the tasks you add to your child’s to-do list.
There’s no need to reward a tween for every task he completes. Picking up after himself and cleaning his room, for example, are part of pitching in and helping the family.
But, paying your tween an allowance for doing extra chores can be a good way to start teaching your child financial responsibility. If you don’t want to pay your tween real money, create a token economy system. Let your tween earn tokens that can be exchanged for time with electronics or outings with friends.
Chores for Teenagers
Teenagers need chores that will prepare them for the real world. Assign chores such as meal preparation, mowing the lawn, or doing the laundry. These life skills will be important after high school so your teen can live independently.
Giving your teen an allowance can motivate him to do chores. It can also serve as a way to teach your teen about how to manage money.
Make an allowance system similar to the way your teen will earn money at a job. Provide payment one time per week. Don’t give out any loans and don’t hand out money if your teen hasn’t earned it.