You may think that carting your children from school to tuitions and cramming in as much extracurricular activity as possible can best prepare them for the demands their future holds, but they could be missing out on a crucial learning experience that was a regular part of the previous generation’s upbringing – household chores for kids.
An article in the Wall Street Journal quotes Richard Rende, a developmental psychologist and co-author of the forthcoming book “Raising Can-Do Kids, “Parents today want their kids spending time on things that can bring them success, but ironically, we’ve stopped doing one thing that’s actually been a proven predictor of success—and that’s household chores. Decades of studies show the benefits of chores—academically, emotionally and even professionally.”
Learning piano, chess or French may sharpen your child’s mind but don’t underestimate the benefits of an old-fashioned upbringing – where contributing to a household by pitching in with chores can give a sense of responsibility and self-reliance.
Marty Rossmann, professor emeritus at the University of Minnesota, analyzed data in 2002 from a longitudinal study that tracked children across different times in their lives – preschool, around 10 and 15, and in their mid-20s. He found that those adults who were made to do chores as young as 3- and 4-years-old were likely to be more successful academically and in relationships with their relatives and friends than the adults who began doing chores later, in their teens.
But chores aren’t exactly fun to do and getting kids to participate may require some effort. If you child has a busy post-school schedule, factor in some “chore time” in the schedule to show him or her that it is just as important. Be careful to create a balance to not leave the child exhausted.
Start with small chores and build up levels of responsibilities so that your kids feel more in charge. Make sure the chores aren’t just limited to their well-being – cleaning up their room, for example. Instead, involve them in work that benefits the whole family, such as doing the dishes or washing dishes. This teaches and makes them appreciate what goes into running a household.
And perhaps most important, don’t bad mouth household tasks. Complaining about the work will make it even less appealing to your kids.
Did you do chores when you were a kid? Share your thoughts in the comments below. Please like FamiLife’s page on Facebook so that you get all our articles and others may find us.