Why helping with Household Chores is good for kids

30 Apr

Its dinner time and you are rushing back and forth laying the table, heating up the food, cutting the fruits, getting the bottles of water…. And then you look around and see that you are the only one busy; The kids are lazing around – watching television, reading a book completely unawares that you could do with some help. As you look at them you realize that as soon as dinner is done they will move to various corners of the house still quite oblivious of your need for a helping hand.

They look at you blankly wondering why you’ve stopped in your tracks and thats when you realise that somewhere you’ve missed out on teaching them an important life skill –  It takes every member of the home to pitch in to make household tasks less of a burden for one.

So, when is the right time to engage your bundles of joy in the day to day jobs around the house?

Toddlers as young as 3 can help in putting their toys away, throw trash in the garbage can.

At 4 and 5 years, children love helping around the house. They can match and fold socks, lay the table with unbreakable dishes and if you have plants, water them.

At 6 and 7 years encourage them to fold towels, butter the bread and put together a simple sandwich. Don’t get caught up in perfection instead praise them and allow them to take pride in their work.

At 8, 9 and 10 years, along with simple food preparations, they can also clean counter tops, put soiled clothes in the washer, replace hand towels in the bathrooms etc. Show them how things are done and step aside while they do it.

Ages 10 – 12, children now can do pretty much everything except maybe handle fire.  Allow them to choose what they’d like to do and compliment them on a job well done.

Ages 13 on – From here on doing chores isn’t what children would voluntarily jump to do. So maintain the fact that helping around the house is non negotiable. Be clear and consistent with your expectations. Posting a list on jobs around the home and who is doing what, helps in making them feel that their role is part of a larger cause.

Teens can run errands, help with the homework of their younger siblings, even put together a menu after careful consideration of the likes and dislikes of the family.

Supervise their efforts and offer to help if they need help, but do not micromanage. As the demands on their time increase from school or other activities its easy to allow their responsibilities to slide. Instead talk about how they will manage their time and which chores will still be their responsibility. Motivate them to stay on track.

Why are doing chores around the house important?

It makes children feel capable and productive which goes a long way in building a positive self concept.

It teaches them responsibility and organization skills which increase their self confidence.

They feel like a valuable contributor in the family and this instills in them a sense of belonging which helps in thinking of every member of the family as having a role to play in the smooth running of the home. Something like the family being a team.

Keeping a home clean or putting together a simple meal comes easy to them making them great room mates and self sufficient young men and women.

Of course the bigger goal here is connecting with your children while working together.

Consistency is the key when chores are assigned to children. Cleaning up, folding laundry etc aren’t very interesting activities, and so its only natural that children will resent them and not be cooperative from time to time. Patience, being assertive and modelling shared responsibility is the key to making our kids get back on track.

Its okay to delay or take away privileges if the job is not done. If necessary, hold family meetings to revise the allocation of chores. This ensures that every member of the family feels heard and this gives each one a chance to practice their problem solving skills.

If you are convinced of the importance of children doing chores, then that’s what you will communicate to your children through your interaction with them.

Although they may not be convinced with your explanations, teaching them age appropriate ways to contribute to the family will make them feel and do better in the long run.

 

 

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