Want your kids to be successful adults? Get them to share household chores from a young age, as early as 3 or 4!
As a parent, you may feel that you should spare your children the drudgery or mundaneness of chores at this age and give them more time to focus on the important stuff like studies or hobbies.
Or you may think that nagging your kids to do their chores is a bigger chore in itself! Perhaps it's easier to just do things yourself. Or are you a perfectionist, wanting everything to be done just so, and think getting kids to do this just won't do? :)
Whatever category you fall into, we'd strongly recommend that you rethink this. Yes, we understand kids are not going to be perfect and it will take some work getting them to share chores.
However, there are numerous benefits to chore sharing with your children. It may not count on their certificates nor would it fetch awards, but it will make their lives and yours’ richer and better in the long term.
Research from a well-known 75-year Harvard study examined the psychosocial variables that predict health and well-being later in life and discovered that who were given chores became more independent adults.
Also Read: Raising Responsible Kids; What Must We Do?
So what do kids chores do better than other activities?
Family bonding – Giving a child a role in the household, no matter how small or seemingly insignificant, builds a bond unlike any other.
The child feels better connected to the home and family as they make a contribution to its everyday functioning. Setting the dinner table, putting away toys, ensuring that their bed is made or watering plants, it's all necessary to keep things going.
You could even have a family chore chart pinned up on the fridge that will demonstrate how what they do relates to everything happening in the house.
Builds self esteem – For a child to accomplish a task and be praised for it, to know that they are eventually responsible for doing whatever they are doing, helps build their self-esteem.
They will fail the first few times, but when they finally manage to keep the place mats and set the table or finish watering all five plants without spilling any water on the ground, it will do wonders for their self esteem, something that will last all their life.
Teach responsibility – Self-esteem and responsibility are irrevocably bound to one another. When they see a plant wilt because they missed watering it or realize that setting plates for everyone to eat depends on them, it teaches them a very important life lesson of responsibility.
Getting kids to start taking responsibility is one of the major goals of parenting.
Delayed gratification – In the digital world of today, one of the important life lessons that we wish to impart to our kids is to delay gratification. Not everything happens immediately.
It takes time to do things and get them as we want them. Making a salad involves washing and tearing lettuce, and simple as the task is, it still needs some time and thought. A plant takes watering every day for many weeks, even months, for it to bear flowers or fruit.
All of these indirectly teach kids that things take time and repetition.
Teach the importance of completing an assigned job. If the plant does not get water, it will wilt and likely die. The dog needs to be walked twice a day, every single day. It is important to do these chores every day.
This learning is useful as the child gets older and has more responsibilities at school and at home. You can also have chore charts for older kids that will help them build things into their routine.
The value of keeping things clean and organized. Clutter is chaotic and it’s hard to find things when you need them. A pencil box in a school bag means we are less likely to scrabble for it before the bus comes along. And they need to put it there, not mom.
The habit of regularly picking up after themselves is a great way to not only build a good routine, but will cut out the chaos in the house and make for more peace.
When the responsibility of keeping things in order is put on the child, they automatically learn this lesson.
Inculcates team spirit - Giving kids chores can give them a sense of being part of the "team." Instead of having a chore chart just for kids, you could have a family chore chart that demonstrates what each person in the house is responsible for.
SOME DO'S & DON'TS
- You should start as early as you can. Apart from everything we've discussed, doing chores is an interesting activity that young kids will enjoy. Plus, you'll get to spend some time with them!
- Make sure the chores you give out are age appropriate. Only then will it work for both you and the child. For example, a toddler could help you sort and put vegetables into fridge bags while an older child can help you carry them into the house from the car.
- You should not pay for getting chores done. It is something everyone needs to do as a part of the family and for which there should be no financial expectation. However, you can have rewards for chores well done, like picking out a favourite game or toy. You could even allot points for successful completion of tasks ahead of time or a better way of doing things. For example, did Mitra not only put her clothes in the laundry basket but also put out her uniform for tomorrow? She gets some brownie points! Did Arjun not only lay the table but also help dad put away leftovers in the fridge? He gets some extra points too!
If you haven’t started giving out chores to children, there is no time like the present, especially if you want them to be responsible, independent, self-sufficient adults. That dinner table is waiting to be set—so what are you waiting for? Start chore sharing!
What chores can your little one confidently perform? Share with us in the comments.