Insisting that chores get done can feel like a never-ending battle: a constant cycle of reminding, cajoling, nagging and threatening consequences!
Is it worth it?
Chores teach children a full set of life skills – so they can move on confidently into adulthood knowing how to cook, clean, shop, budget, garden, mow lawns and take out the rubbish! Childhood is the perfect opportunity to impart these skills to our children, a little at a time.
It’s not just the chores themselves that are important. Children who do chores get to develop and exercise a range of ‘mental muscles’ that are invaluable:
- Confidence. Completing tasks (and being praised for it) gives children a sense of pride and accomplishment. It’s a short hop from there to a real ‘can do’ attitude – something their future employer will love!
- Sense of purpose and self-esteem. All children love feeling needed and important.
- Responsibility. Chores help children grasp the concepts of obligation and commitment (as soon as they realise that mum and dad are not going to let them off the hook!).
- Self-discipline and delayed gratification. It’s common for parents to reward children with treats or pocket-money for doing their chores. Whatever the reward, it teaches children about delaying their gratification and working towards something in the future.
- Pitching in as part of the family (the best way to attack chores!) demonstrates to children the elements of teamwork: listening to others, depending on others, being relied on, delegating, and helping those who struggle.
There are some good bits for parents too. Getting children to do their chores leaves less work for the adults (and more time for fun!).
Attacking chores as an adult-child team also creates a regular opportunity for quiet chats and bonding. Boys in particular, are usually more comfortable talking while active – think of it as talking side-by-side. Face-to-face talking can feel more pressured and scary for them.
Research indicates that children who do have set chores have higher self-esteem, are more responsible and are better able to deal with frustration and delay gratification. Not surprisingly, these children do better at school.