Were you ever told to “earn your keep” growing up? We sure were!
In recent years, it seems childhood chores have come up for debate. Some parents figure “kids will be kids” and favor playtime over helping out around the house. Others see kids as less capable and think it’s more efficient to handle the household tasks themselves.
The arguments make sense, but there are a lot of reasons you want to get your kids involved with the housework—and the sooner, the better. Chores will help kids build good habits early and carry them into adolescence and adulthood.
Assigning kids age-appropriate chores can help:
- Teach life skills. Laundry, cooking, and cleaning up are just some of the skills your kids will need when they move out someday. These skills aren’t always taught in schools, making learning them at home even more important.
- Instill responsibility. Giving your kids regular chores, like cleaning their rooms or doing their laundry, helps them become more self-reliant. And as a bonus, they might feel proud to be considered mature enough to take care of these tasks.
- Demonstrate teamwork. Your family is a “team,” and teamwork can be modeled through housework. Kids can learn a lot about accountability and consequences when it comes to your expectations for chores, and those skills will later be used at school or work.
So how do you convince your kids to help at home?
- Avoid relying on rewards. Instead of bribery, focus on internal motivation. Help your kids develop the belief that a sense of accomplishment is just as rewarding as a candy bar.
- Use sequential statements. “When-then” and “after-then” can be effective phrasing. Try, “After you put your Legos away, then we can have a snack.”
- Make it a game. Put on some music and give your kids a challenge. Tell them to “Throw all your toys in the bucket before the song ends!”
- Don’t re-do it. In most cases, avoid re-doing a task you assigned your child so they don’t feel incapable and start to think someone else will always do it for them. When you’re assigning chores, here are a few things to keep in mind:
- Ability will depend on your child’s age and the task you give them. Keep in mind that younger kids will complete a task at their skill level and more complex tasks will require more practice.
- Sometimes it’s ok to re-do a task without them knowing their original work wasn’t quite up to par (like re-washing the dishes after they go to bed!). The more practice they have, the better they’ll become at the task.
Want more info?
- Check out this printable age-by-age chore chart to get all hands on deck.
- Psychology Today offers a helpful perspective on reframing chores for children.
- NPR has an in-depth look at how to motivate kids to do chores in their #howtoraiseahuman series.