How are house chores dealt with in your family? Do you let your children’s clumsy little hands pitch in for chores? Although it might be more hassle to let young kids be involved in chores than doing it yourself, the benefits to your kids might be worth it.
Research shows that assigning chores to kids can have numerous positive effects on their development and growth. By doing chores, kids can learn responsibility, build self-esteem, and enhance their problem-solving skills, which can help them become well-rounded, independent individuals, prepared to tackle the challenges of adulthood.
It’s important to remember that kids may not enjoy doing chores, but by setting a positive example and finding creative ways to make chores more enjoyable, parents can help their kids develop a strong work ethic and a sense of responsibility.
Benefits of doing chores for kids
1. Teaches responsibility
Completing their given tasks around the house can teach kids responsibility and help them learn about the consequences of failing to complete a task—such as not having clean clothes or dishes. This can be a valuable lesson for later in life when they take on more responsibilities outside the home, especially while pursuing higher education or starting their career.
2. Builds self-esteem
Managing a given set of chores using time management, executive function, and problem-solving skills can give kids a sense of accomplishment and pride in their work. This can boost their self-esteem, which becomes a source of strength in handling whatever difficulties they might encounter.
3. Develops time management skills
Managing chores helps kids learn how to prioritize tasks and manage their time efficiently. This is a crucial life skill that will serve them well in both their personal and professional lives.
4. Increases independence
Handling chores from beginning to end, kids gain a sense of independence and autonomy. This can help them feel more self-sufficient and prepared to tackle challenges on their own.
5. Improves teamwork and communication skills
Completing a chore that requires teamwork develops a child’s ability to communicate with others. They might coordinate with a group to sort the laundry or move dirty dishes to the sink. In this way, kids can learn how to work as a team by communicating effectively to get a job done. These skills will be beneficial for interaction with others, whether working on team projects or navigating social relationships.
6. Enhances problem-solving skills
While tackling chores, kids might face problems that require them to think critically and solve issues on their own. This helps them develop problem-solving skills that contribute to an entrepreneurial mindset and strengthen their resilience.
7. Promotes a sense of belonging
Doing chores is a big contribution to the family, which enhances a child’s sense of belonging, develops their sense of self-importance, and makes them feel more connected to their family.
What to do if your kid refuses to do chores?
1. Give clear expectations
Help your child understand what is expected of them in your household and the consequences for not completing their chores. Having clear, concise rules and consequences can help prevent arguments and confusion.
2. Be an example
If you want your kids to take their chores seriously, it’s important to set a good example. Show them the importance of hard work and responsibility by completing your own chores and tasks around the house.
3. Offer rewards
Although you don’t want your child to associate chores as a tedious part of their lives, sometimes a little motivation can go a long way. Consider offering incentives, such as an allowance or other privileges, for kids who complete their chores.
4. Give encouragement
If your child is struggling with a particular chore, offer support and encouragement. Show them how to complete the task correctly and be patient while they learn.
5. Make chores fun
Try to make chores into a fun and engaging activity. Play music, make a game out of cleaning up, or find other ways to make chores more enjoyable.
6. Give choices
Allowing kids to choose which chores they would like to do can help make the tasks feel more empowering and encourage them to take ownership of their responsibilities.
7. Set rules for consequences
If your child consistently refuses to do their chores, it may be necessary to enforce consequences. This could mean a reduction in allowance or a loss of privileges such as screen time.
Can you use chores as a form of punishment?
1. It can lead to resentment
If kids associate chores with punishment, they will start to see them as unpleasant and unfair tasks. If kids feel like they are being forced to do chores and don’t have a choice in the matter, it may lead to further resistance and resentment, making it even more difficult to get them to accept the chores later on.
2. It undermines the purpose of chores
Chores are an opportunity for kids to learn valuable life skills and develop a strong work ethic. By using them as punishment, parents risk undermining the positive benefits that chores can provide.
Forcing kids to do chores as a punishment can harm their self-esteem and confidence. This can lead to feelings of inadequacy and a negative self-image.
3. Damaging to the relationship
When kids see chores as a form of punishment, it can create tension and conflict in the parent-child relationship. This can lead to resentment and mistrust, making it difficult for parents to effectively discipline their kids in the future.
4. Can create negativity around chores
Chores as a punishment do not provide children with the opportunity to learn and practice effective problem-solving skills. Instead, it reinforces a negative cycle of punishment and misbehavior.
Helpful research and studies about the benefits of kids doing chores
- Study: “Executive functions and household chores: Does engagement in chores predict children’s cognition?” by Deanna L. Tepper, Tiffani J. Howell, Pauleen C. Bennett
- Research: The University of Minnesota Extension found that kids who regularly did chores had better social skills, were more responsible, and had a stronger work ethic.
Example of chores by age
- Putting toys away
- Assisting with setting the table
- Helping to water plants
- Arranging shoes
- Setting table (e.g., placing utensils and cups)
- Clearing the table after meals
- Making their bed
- Helping with laundry (matching socks, folding towels)
- Doing simple meal preparation tasks (e.g., pouring cereal, spreading peanut butter)
- Dusting and wiping down surfaces
- Folding laundry
- Vacuuming or sweeping
- Doing laundry (separating colors, washing, folding, putting away)
- Cleaning bathrooms
- Loading dishwasher
- Mowing the lawn or raking leaves
Ages 13 and up:
- Cooking simple meals
- Doing advanced meal preparation tasks
- Cleaning the kitchen after meals
- Washing the car
- Putting groceries away
- Mowing the lawn
- Cleaning bathrooms
- Running errands (e.g., grocery shopping)
Free printable chore chart PDF
The appropriate chores for children can vary depending on their age and ability. Here is a free printable with some examples of age-appropriate chores for kids.
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It’s important for parents to strike a balance between encouraging kids to do chores and not overburdening or forcing kids by using chores as a form of punishment. Chores should be age-appropriate, and kids should be able to choose which tasks they would like to do. This can help kids maintain a positive attitude toward chores.
If kids refuse to do their chores, instead of showing your frustration and disappointment, motivate your children and encourage them to complete their tasks.
By reinforcing clear expectations while supporting kids to manage their chores, parents can help their kids develop a strong work ethic and problem-solving skills while building healthy self-esteem.
Also, check out these posts below for further reading:
- How to talk to your kids about the birds and the bees without blushing
- How to deal with a child that lies, and minimize the repercussions
- Secrets to boosting your child’s social skills