Kids have lots of demands for their attention and energy, including school assignments, time with their friends, and their hobbies, but we believe that having regular chores is critical to their development (and, frankly, to the functioning of our house). Sometimes there are excuses, procrastination, and outright refusal from the kids, but I have to be firm with this. In our house, children are responsible for putting up their clothes, making their beds, and taking care of the dog. The dog requires the most work because the kids have to clean up after her outside (yes, picking up poo) and inside (we got the best pet vacuum like this one), walk her, and feed her.
Different studies by behavioral scientists have connected what we have known all along. A responsible kid makes a responsible adult. I believe having my kids help with the chores around the house has a few benefits.
Learning life skills
The kids will leave home at one point in the future. What happens to someone who cannot cook, do laundry, or go to the grocery store? They would either have to live very sloppily or have lots of money to have servants for every little task. There is also that little matter about self respect. They shouldn’t have someone to wash their underwear no matter how rich they become!
Responsibility means doing what needs to be done when it needs to be done. Paying bills, taking out the trash, or walking the dog are some of the responsibilities that are taken for granted, but which could cause conflict if there is someone who is not playing their part. The kids will have their homes in the future and must be responsible for both minor and major responsibilities.
The bonds formed by kids when they are young have life-long influences in their relationships for life. When kids learn to do things together–like chores and playing team sports–they learn the value of helping each other out, even when it doesn’t benefit them. They learn to cover for each other, which is a very useful element of adult relationships in a world where individuals are living increasingly isolated lives.
Organization and planning skills
When kids help out with house chores, they learn how to gather the tools, equipment, or material needed for the tasks as well as time allocation skills. These are the basic elements of organization and planning.
Instilling a work ethic
A good work ethic means that one keeps going at a task until it is successfully completed. When kids do chores that are boring—laundry, for example—they learn that duties have to be seen through even if they are unpleasant. This gives them the tenacity to go through difficult undertakings in later life.
Keeps them busy
Young kids are energetic, and this energy has to be channeled somewhere; otherwise, it takes on a destructive form. Helping with house chores keeps the kids physically active, healthy, and with great appetites.