Kids and Household Chores
Kids and Chores
Children learn more from doing chores than just how to do dishes or clean the bathroom.
Consistent responsibilities teach kids many necessary skills such as:
- Time management
- The power of accomplishment
- Personal empowerment
Why Give Chores?
If each member of the family has household chores they are responsible for it brings everyone together as a team. Children need to feel like they are a part of something and the family is the most important team there is. Everyone wants to feel needed and necessary in their family.
When a task is completed, regardless how big or small, everyone gets a feeling of satisfaction and pride in their work.
Chores also provide a necessary appreciation for all that goes into running a house and family schedule. Children often take the details for granted because it’s always been done for them.
It really isn’t fair to get angry or frustrated with a child for behaving entitled or ungrateful if they aren’t being taught responsibility and appreciation. Unfortunately those traits aren’t instinctual.
Why Not Give Chores?
A few of the most common reasons that parents don’t consistently assign chores are;
1. It takes time and patience's to teach children how to do the chore initially
There is no doubt that the parent or caregiver could have done the job 3 times in the time it takes to have the child do it once. Teaching a child to clean something or organize something the right way can be tedious and maddening for the adult.
It’s important to focus on the big picture and remind yourself of all the life lessons that the child is learning from process. These are necessary life lessons that kids need as they become young adults. It’s a dirty job but if the parents and caregivers don’t do it, who will?
2. My child and I just end up arguing because they really don’t want to do it. It is just easier to do it all myself.
Although chores are important, they aren’t always well received by the kids who now have to help do them. One way to implement responsibility without going to battle is to talk about it ahead of time. If there is an open discussion about why chores are necessary and when they will start, there will be a much easier transition. Is it easier to do them yourself? Of course it is! The actual chore isn’t the point, the lesson is in the doing.
3. I end up feeling like Cinderella’s step-mom
A few phrases are frequently spoken when chores are suggested:
- Childhood only happens once so they should enjoy it,
- Kids should be kids,
- They have their whole lives to worry about chores so why start now?
These are all true to a certain extent. It isn’t suggested or recommended that children assume all of the responsibilities of the household. Chores should be age appropriate and limited to one or two so there is always time for the most important things: family time, school work and activities, and play.
That being said, it is certainly not too much to ask for a child or teenager to be responsible for one or two of the twenty + chores that need to be done per week. If everyone has different responsibilities that make the house run smoothly, there shouldn’t be any reason for the parent or caregiver to feel like they are turning their child into the maid.
Parents and caregivers aren’t doing their children any favors when they do everything for them. Quite the opposite is true actually. When kids enter the adult world without knowing basic skills of taking care of themselves and being accountable for things, they struggle immensely. That really isn’t fair to the kids. They count on the adults in their lives to lead them and teach them what they need to be happy and productive grown-ups.
What Chores Are Best?
There are universal family responsibilities and there are chores that are unique to individual families.
The common chores are a great place to start because they are skills kids will need to have when they are adults. Some good examples are: doing dishes, vacuuming or sweeping the floors, cleaning the bathroom, washing windows and laundry. No matter how big or small their future home is, it's a pretty good bet that these jobs will need to be taken care of.
Responsibilities like feeding pets, washing cars or lawn care can be different for each family. These are also a great way to get kids involved as long as they are safe and age appropriate.
As kids get older it is suggested that adding cooking duties to the chore list is necessary.
Many children grow into young adults without knowing how to feed themselves. I know it sounds ridiculous but food doesn't come in a box or out of a fast food bag, they don’t know what to do with it.
Some kids have a wonderful curiosity and love to learn how to cook. Those parents are so lucky! Other kids simply aren't interested in learning much about what happens in the kitchen.
When children are responsible for making their own lunch or preparing one dinner per week (or month), they learn an appreciation for preparing food even if they never really develop a passion for it.
Of course the menu selection will need to be approved by an adult, otherwise they may serve frozen pizza or peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.
Ease The Transition
Daily or weekly chores are not punishments, they are a part of learning and growing.
One way to make the child feel like they are part of the family team when it comes to responsibilities is to have them help decide what to do and when.
Make a list of all the duties that are done on a regular basis to make the home and family run smoothly, have them pick one or two (depending on age) that they will be in charge of and help them pick a specific time that job will be completed.
It will be really helpful for everyone if this is posted somewhere visible in the house like the refrigerator or another common area. Any new routine requires a little time to get used to and a visual reminder is a good way to make that happen.
When the child is young remind them they day before and hours before so it won’t be a surprise when it’s time to do it.
As they get older, fewer reminders are necessary.
By the time kids are in their teens, they shouldn’t be reminded at all because the purpose of assigning the chores is to teach time management and responsibility. If the parent or caregiver needs to nag and remind the teen every time they need to get something done, the lesson is getting lost.