Most parents talk about their kids doing chores for allowance. One thing that is very important about chores, however, is the discipline that children can learn from having to do them.
I will never forget when the call came in. My sister and I had been at a birthday sleepover the night before, and the mom of said sleepover was calling my mom. Uh oh. Did we do something wrong? My mom called us into the kitchen and said with a lot of pride “I just wanted to tell you that you girls were the only ones at that party who rinsed your dishes and put them in the dishwasher after breakfast.” Wow. That was a pleasant surprise! It was a habit that we would put our dishes in the dishwasher because, coming from a family with six kids, that sink was getting filled up constantly. We also had to take turns washing the dishes, did our own laundry, and had to clean our (often messy) rooms. Although I wasn’t the least bit thrilled to be doing these chores at the time, it instilled a sense of responsibility and discipline that translated outside the home. When kids are actively involved in household chores, it builds discipline that will stick with them into adulthood.
Children learn the discipline of hard work by doing household chores, even at a young age. According to the Center for Parenting Education, giving children chores at an early age, as young as 3 or 4, will have a positive impact on your child’s attitude. In fact, their research showed that participating in chores as a child was the best predictor of mid-twenties success. Children thrive under schedule and consistency, so creating a set series of tasks will promote their ability to work under rules and guidelines, creating an innate discipline within them. You will be teaching them valuable life lessons by providing a situation in which they will have a positive attitude and put value into hard work.
Start small when deciding what chores to give your children. Although assigning chores to a child can be an uphill battle, giving small assignments will help them build the stamina and consistency needed to be completely responsible. Start by giving one to two chores a day that they may already do, like clean up their toys or put their clothes in the laundry hamper. Remind them around the same time every day that they have a job to do, and walk them through it if they are having a “rough” day. Just as in any parenting situation, love and support are the keys to building the discipline of regularly completing chores. A great way to do this is to create a rewards system. This will teach children that when they do good things, they are recognized and rewarded. It will also teach them that there are consequences when they fail to fulfill their responsibility. Check out WebMD for more information on what chores to assign at certain ages.
Provide your child with both instant and delayed rewards. This lesson in discipline is worth the effort. Creating a chore chart with pictures, especially for your kids under 10, will help keep them motivated and remind them of the jobs they have to do. An instant reward could be verbal encouragement, a high five, or a sticker on their chart showing that they have completed their assigned tasks. This will create a firm belief that this is a positive task that will feel good when completed. I would hesitate to give a monetary reward, especially to young children. Household chores are a responsibility, although they may also be seen as a job. One way to secretly reward them is to set aside an allowance each week they complete their chores and give them the lump sum upon graduation. A delayed reward could be a special outing, event, or prize for completing a full week’s worth of chores. This will help instill the valuable lesson that you have to consistently work hard to enjoy fun things. All these lessons, although they seem simple, directly correlate with how adults function in their jobs. The discipline that children learn from doing chores will innately translate to their school and professional lives, strengthening their character and abilities to see the bigger rewards of work.
Teaching children the discipline of doing household chores is an invaluable lesson. Forbes listed the 15 Traits of an Ideal Employee, and many of these traits are taught through assigning children jobs within their home. Traits such as being hard working, action-oriented, ambitious, detail-oriented, autonomous, and successful are just some of the benefits children will yield by performing chores under parental guidance. So, get out there, make a chore chart, and see what happens! You will never know how well it will work until you try.