In today’s world, our children seem to need every advantage to succeed. Their time is precious and should not be wasted. School work is just the beginning and seemingly not enough to give kids a competitive advantage. So, should kids do chores? Or would that time be better spent on piano lessons, coding camps or team games? If my kids are deprived of extra-curricular activities, will they be less successful than their peers?
Luckily, psychology may have the answer. And it’s good news for those of us that are tired of having a messy house!
Should Kids Do Chores?
The Washington Times reported on research by Braun Research that looked at the prevalence of household chores over two generations (link below). Over a thousand US parents were surveyed. It found that 82% of parents did chores while they were children. However, only 28% of these parents ask their own kids to do chores. The reason? Their kids were just too busy!
School work and extra-curricular activities take more time than they ever did before. And parents feel guilty about adding to that by insisting their kids help with the housework. And let’s face it, kids are bad at housework. It takes them so long to do anything that it is often easier and less stressful to do it yourself!
However, research by Marty Rossman of the University of Mississippi suggests that it is worth the wait and the tantrums. She studied kids who did chores at the age of three or four, and followed their progress right into their twenties.
And guess what? Kids who do chores at home do better in a host of ways. They are better adjusted, achieve more academically and are more successful in their careers. They also tend to have better social relationships with their family and friends.
Housework and the reluctant child
Unfortunately, kids hate housework as much as adults do! What are the best ways to get the perfect house without having a screaming match every day?
Starting young is ideal. Toddlers love to help, so encourage them. Give them little household chores to do and praise their efforts. It can be more difficult to get older kids to do chores if they are not used to it, so more encouragement (and patience) will be needed. But try to make it more a positive than negative experience.
Show your kids how to do chores! It’s easy to ask a child to do housework and criticise them for not doing it correctly. Maybe they don’t know how to do it correctly as they’ve never been shown? Praise the work that they doe and suggest that next time they could also do this or not do that. “Well done! But if you put the plates in this rack you can fit more in, let’s try that the next time,” is likely to work better than “That’s all wrong – I’d be better off doing it myself!”
Make chores fun. I know, I know, easier said than done, right? But, if you can incorporate music and dance while sweeping up or vacuuming, for example. It is more enjoyable than just going through the motions. Lead by example, throw on your favourite tunes while doing your chores too. It will brighten up your mood!
Don’t limit your children’s chores to their own areas. Kids need to do more chores than just cleaning their room. Everyone has to live together in your house and you all deserve to live in a tidy, healthy environment. Help each other out and life will go smoother for everyone. Eventually. There may well be a fair bit of friction at the start of any new chore routine 🙂 .
Rewarding kids for chores
Rewarding kids for doing their chores is a complicated topic. Should your kids’ allowance or pocket-money depend on them doing their chores?
On one hand it teaches them the concept of getting rewards for doing work. Everyone gets paid for the work they do, right?
On the other hand it gives them the option of deciding to forgo the money because they can’t be bothered to do the housework! Maybe it’s better to get into a routine of just doing a quick tidy-up before you all go on a family outing or other fun event. Household chores need to be done, rewards or not. So, it’s probably best to not tie the rewards up with them. Besides, by now you’re likely to be in a Mary Poppins-style of household utopia. The merest thought of not being allowed to do fun chores is punishment enough!
Do your kids do chores? Do you have any tips or techniques to help the rest of us? Share in the comments below!