Teaching your children to help with chores doesn’t just benefit your family in the present — it has lifelong effects on your children’s confidence and success.
My parents did not teach me to help in the home. Now I regret it. I have found out that the science is on the side of the parents to get their children to do chores and help in the home. The ‘benefits are enormous.’
The motherhood website Belly Belly gets straight to the point:
“Some parents are really motivated for their children to do chores. They begin with good intentions, making “chore charts”, and sit down with their children and explain how to meticulously tackle each chore step by step. But some parents wonder, should children do chores at all? And at what ages?
If you’re on the fence, know that research has shown when children do chores, the benefits are enormous.
What parents need to understand is that the actual chores are not what is most important here; but rather the huge benefits that come from being given such responsibilities.
It doesn’t take long to figure out that a small child isn’t going to complete the job with the same perfection and success that you are — and that’s when the chores slowly start to fall back into your lap.
Dr. Martin Rossman from the University of Minnesota undertook a longitudinal study (subjects were followed up over a period of 20 years) which revealed that one of the best predictors of a child’s success is if he or she began helping with household chores at the age of 3 to 4.
These children were less likely to use drugs and had better relationships, among many other significant benefits.
When children are given jobs to do when they are younger, they will develop confidence in their ability to complete tasks. This goes for very young children as well, because they are the ones always begging to help out with the cooking, the cleaning or the gardening.
Many parents of toddlers will be familiar with their dishwasher being hijacked by a well-meaning two- or three-year-old wanting to help unstack it! Yet, many parents, tell young children “No, when you’re bigger”, or “You’re too little to do this!”, when actually we should be letting them try little tasks (that are safe and suitable for their age group) so our children can feel the success of doing something new on their own.
Many times, it’s more convenient as parents to just do it ourselves, to save time or make sure it’s done correctly, but we are missing out on valuable opportunities to help our children gain confidence. It could be the difference between a ‘can-do’ attitude and an ‘I can’t do it’ attitude as they grow up.”
I believe this motherhood site might just be right. Mothers have that innate ability of being right more often than not.
When it come to my own family, the mother of my children was better than me at getting the children to do their chores. You see, she came from a family of four children. The larger the family, the greater the workload, the great the need to spread the load. My family only had two children and up until now, I have used this as an excuse.
Now I see the error of my ways. Dr Martin Rossman is right — if you want your children to succeed in life, start them on the household chores as young as possible. Sadly, I was not as supportive as I could have been of my wife’s chore endeavours with our children, but it’s never too late to learn.
Thankfully our children were fairly compliant when it came to cleaning and helping around the home. Everyone’s room was pretty good except for my daughter, the youngest, who had a propensity for clutter (a bit of DNA problem from Dad). We developed a truce to keep the peace. No mess in the house, but the mess in your room was up to you.
While reflecting on today’s topic, I rang my daughter to ask if she thought we should have been stricter. About 12 months ago, our daughter apparently ‘reformed’ and no longer allows mess in her apartment.
Her response was,
“Yes Dad, you could have started earlier and expected more of me.
In the long term, it would have been better.”
So here I am, a reformed pro-chore parent on a mission to encourage other Dads to be the same.
To get a better perspective, I rang a good friend who has eleven children (now that would be a big workload) to ask his opinion about teaching children to do housework and tidying up their mess while they are still young.
My friend said this:
“Warwick, if all eleven of my children created a mess and didn’t clean it up, that would be a very big mess! We have one rule. No chores, no food. In other words, if you want to come to the table to eat, first finish your chores. This keeps things simple.”
“Firstly, you must have a family discussion about the jobs or chores that have to be done. Define the challenges, confirm the solution and agree on who does what and even define the jurisdictions for the children to be responsible for. Also, confirm the rewards and incentives. If you involve your children in the process of job allocations, you will create greater buy-in to the project.”
“Secondly, create a roster, use a whiteboard or have a ‘tick map’ (as it is called in the Marsh household). The fridge is a great place for family announcements, but each family has to do what is best for them. I can see the benefits in my older children of teaching them chores when they were young. They are all successful in their respective vocations.”
The proof is always in the pudding. Here is a ‘tick map’ job sheet my wife created for our grandchildren to give you some ideas. A JPG and a fill-in-your-own details Excel version. You can even access 20 free printable chore charts online.
What are we waiting for? Let’s get our children more involved in the running of the home and help build a successful future for them.
Yours for successful children,