Teaching children to have a strong work ethic early in their childhood can be beneficial to them long into adulthood. Age-appropriate chores for kids as young as preschool encourages responsibility, accountability, independence and initiative. Toddlers can make beds and clean up small areas such as their room or play area. Then, as children get older they can assist with activities such as setting the table, feeding the family pet, taking out the trash, and folding laundry. Before children have paying jobs and a boss, chores give them direction that can prepare them for the “real world.”
Determine Chore vs. Life Skill
The first step in giving children their share of chores is to recognize the difference between a chore and a life skill. A chore is an ongoing task that benefits everyone in the family while a life skill is an activity that more often benefits the child specifically. Why should kids do chores in addition to improving life skills? While both activities prepare children to live effectively on their own, a chore is unselfish and inspires them to attend to the needs of everyone in the household. Allowing your children to understand they are part of keeping the house running smoothly allows them to feel a sense of purpose, determination, achievement and obligation.
Set Realistic Expectations
As you prepare a list of chores for your child, keep in mind that everyone develops at different rates. Siblings may do things completely different from each other or children their age at school or in the neighborhood. Adjusting the list of chores to cater to your child’s individual skills and talents is empowering rather than discouraging. Despite being work, you may find that your children enjoy the sense of accomplishment they feel upon completing each task.
Make it a Team Effort
Like adults, children respond better when they see everyone helping out. Choosing a specific time when the entire family does chores such as after school or Saturday mornings helps to create a routine. Have small, everyday tasks for your child as well as bigger weekly chores as the children develop greater responsibility. Although you are constantly cleaning up the house, cooking, doing laundry, and a number of other jobs to keep the house running smoothly, chances are your child is pretty oblivious to the amount of work you actually do. By putting time aside for everyone to pitch in and work together, children are more likely to respond positively and see that household tasks are a shared responsibility of the entire family.
Make Chores Fun
That said, chores do not have to be boring or dreaded. Do what you can to make the chores fun and interesting by putting on some music (perhaps let everyone in the house have an opportunity to choose their own song or playlist), making a game out of it, or even creating contests with rewards. Should kids do chores for money? Keep monetary rewards at a minimum. If you are too often giving your child money for tasks they should be doing anyway, then you may find it harder to get them to do anything without offering money.
Why should kids do chores? Because regularly giving your child chores helps them to develop skills they can use down the road. Jobs as simple as making the bed or mowing the lawn are priceless opportunities that can benefit them for the rest of their lives.