As a family grows larger, the amount of housework will surely increase. Some families may have helpers, but assigning chores to the children in the family will teach them that they have to contribute to maintaining a clean and liveable home.
Doing chores will be invaluable in helping them transition into independent adulthood once they start living on their own. Apart from equipping children with skills necessary to be independent, chores can help shape and develop their character.
By learning to do chores, they learn the significance of cleanliness, time management and respect for property. Doing chores can also improve social skills. Children learn to communicate clearly, negotiate and cooperate with others, especially when chores are done together as a family.
When every member contributes, chores are completed sooner and the whole family can spend more time doing fun activities together. Completing their task will develop the child’s self-confidence, competence and sense of responsibility.
Children may complain or make a fuss to escape chore duty, especially when they grow older. So start them young with these tips:
Chores assigned have to be age appropriate, taking into account their mental and physical abilities. (See Chores by age)
• Be specific with instructions
General and vague instructions can lead to misunderstandings and wrong expectations. For example, be clear and detailed when you say, “Please clean your room”. A child may think that this means just making their bed, but you may also mean keeping their clothes away, arranging their books and toys properly, and emptying the wastebasket.
• Make a schedule
Prepare a list of chores to be done on a regular basis (daily or weekly), divide them fairly among your children and make sure you rotate the chores. Put the schedule where everyone can see it and allow them the satisfaction of ticking off each completed task. Make the schedule fun!
• Do it together
Start by demonstrating how to do the chore. Then do it together, and eventually let the child do it on their own. It is also more fun to do big tasks, such as washing the car, cleaning the garden or folding clean laundry, together with the whole family.
• Praise their efforts
Kids are more encouraged and inclined to help when parents acknowledge and appreciate their efforts. Thank them and give them a hug.
• Take it easy
Avoid being too pushy or strict. Use the “when/then” method instead, e.g. “When you’ve finished folding the clothes, then you can watch tv.” Do not expect perfection and do not redo the chores for them unless really necessary; if you do, they will just leave the chores for you to complete.
Chores and allowances
Some parents may want to encourage their children to do the chores by paying them a fee for each chore done or making their allowance contingent upon completing all their chores.
However, most parenting experts do not recommend giving children allowances for doing chores, especially when they are still young. Chores should be about learning responsibility and life skills.
As kids grow older, encourage them to take up extra chores beyond their routine ones by positive reinforcement and occasional treats, but avoid giving them material rewards like money.