Hello Mommies and Daddies. Welcome back to happyhealthychildren.org where we help parents throw off the toxic elements of modern-day culture and return to the basics of raising happy, healthy children. Today I want to talk with you about chores and children.
I have had several parents tell me that they are against having their children perform chores because “they didn’t have children to make the children their servants”. Other parents look at chores as good and healthy duties for their children. Let’s take a look at what some of the scientific data shows us about chores and children.
According to a large study of almost 10,000 children that began in 2010, children who start performing chores as early as kindergarten have better self-competence, prosocial behavior and self-efficacy when compared to children who did not perform chores early on. Additionally, kindergartners who performed chores had higher math scores than those who did not. In contrast, the kindergartners who did not perform chores scored in the lowest 20% of all the children on prosocial, academic ability, peer relationships and overall life satisfaction.
What this large study shows us is that assigning chores to your children at an early age provides them with significant benefits in their lives, both academic and social.
Chicken or the egg?
You might say that this is a chicken or egg phenomenon. In other words, children who perform chores have some type of inherent difference that accounts for their success, whether it be genetic or environmental. However, this study actually accounted for such factors and concluded that there are inherent benefits from the performance of chores themselves that lead to these positive outcomes.
Let’s take a look at another study that examines the relationship between chores and children. This study was performed in 2021 on children with chronic medical conditions. The results showed that the chronically ill children who performed regular chores had an easier time communicating with their medical providers and transitioning during different medical treatments. The authors of this study surmised that the assignment of chores to children promotes self-management, communication and improved resilience during medical care.
Why do chores benefit children?
There are many reasons why chores benefit children. Firstly, chores teach children real life skills. Children learn to vacuum, clean their house and wash their clothes under the supervision of their parents. In doing so, the children learn to perform these tasks properly and get into the habit of carrying them out at regular intervals.
Aside from learning the task itself, children learn time management from doing chores. They quickly figure out that the faster they successfully complete their chores, the faster they will be able to get to the game they want to play, the book they want to read or the adventure they want to explore.
Why do parents avoid having their children complete chores?
We, as parents, all know that when our children first begin a new responsibility, it takes them what seems like a billion times longer than it would have taken us to just perform the task ourselves. Not only does having our children perform the new chore require this initial patience, but it often requires us to go in after them and tidy things up after they complete the chore to the best of their ability. Having this kind of patience in our busy lives can be difficult. But, as parents, it is important to sometimes sacrifice our schedules to teach our children valuable life skills.
Earlier we touched on another reason why parents are hesitant to assign chores to their children. Some parents feel that they are somehow using their children as laborers. I would encourage you to get away from this notion. A home where a family lives belongs to the entire family, not just the adults. All inhabitants of the home should be responsible for its maintenance. If children are responsible for maintaining their home, they will be more likely to take pride in it and to think twice before doing things like tracking mud in after playing outside.
Concluding thoughts about chores and children
Please remember that, as we see from the studies above, performing chores is actually beneficial for children. Do not feel guilty about assigning chores to your children! In completing their chores, they not only learn valuable life skills, but they also blossom into happy, healthy children!
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