Children and chores

Remember the saying: ‘Fish for me and I have food for a day, teach me to fish and I’ll always have something to eat’? (unknown) This is very true with children too. Let’s take a look at some of the important life skills chores teach.

  1. It teaches responsibility.
  2. It gives them a feeling of belonging and self-worth.
  3. Chores make children feel helpful and needed.
  4. If we teach children to do chores from an early age, they will learn to work hard and realise that house chores don’t just happen, someone needs to let it happen.
  5. It shows them that when you work hard you can also take pride in what you have achieved.
  6. Children who participate in household chores become better team players, co-workers and in the end better life partners. This is because they have learned that if they play their part in the household, they are a part of the family and also feel part of the family.
  7. Chores teach children to be empathetic and sensitive to the needs of others, obviously making them easy to be loved by others.
  8. It teaches them independence. By allowing your child to pour his own juice or sweeping the floor gives them the skill to later cook their own meals and clean their own homes. Perfection is not the important factor at this stage.

Children are not born knowing how to do these chores. They need to be taught and you can teach them to do it exactly the way that you would like them to do it. It seems hard at first, because it takes time, but once they realise the positive impact their assistance has, they will develop further eagerness to learn more.

Setting the tone of chores often determines if children will do them or not. Think about all the times adults complain, because ‘I need to do the dishes again’. If we portray everyday chores as being a bore and something that needs to be avoided at all costs, it is exactly what our children will do. We are the role models that our children follow.

There are numerous lists of age appropriate chores on the Internet. One that I particularly like is: Focus on the Family - Age Appropriate Chores.

It divides the chores into two categories, Personal chores and Family chores. This provides a clear indication as to what actually are chores that are not negotiable (Personal chores) and the chores that are negotiable. For example, it is not negotiable that a 4-5 year old should assist with dressing themselves, but it is negotiable if they would rather set the table or sort out the laundry.

Chores can be tedious, but as seen above, the value far outweighs the effort it takes from both the parents and the children. In the end we’ll have independent, loving and happy children!

You might want to read more about the difference birth order can make