I think it’s pretty common for parents to think that their kids’ success in life will be guaranteed by things like learning their A-B-Cs at age one, enrolling them in a host of extracurricular activities and making sure they have all the latest gadgets. But according to the research (as pointed out in this WSJ article) it all starts with something much simpler – getting them to help with chores around the house.
Giving your kids chores doesn’t make you into a slave driver or an evil parent – it’s setting your kids up with the skills that contribute to a happy and fulfilled life. Studies have found that children who began helping with chores at the ages of three or four years were more likely to later have good family and friend relationships, achieve success academically and in their careers, and to be self-sufficient. And even though it seems like chores means less time for extracurricular activities, it helps them to work harder and better in these various facets of their lives.
Doing chores is a proven predictor for a sense of mastery, self-reliance, responsibility, empathy and respect for others — and the sooner that the kids start, the better. Apart from the obvious of learning how to look after a home, here are some of the skills that kids would develop from doing their chores:
Work ethic: If they have to help out around the house, kids know that the good life isn’t handed to them on a silver platter. They learn that work is required to achieve anything in life and they’ll realise that they can’t take what they have for granted. And if they sit on the couch watching Netflix while their mum cleans around them and hands them food…well, won’t real life be a shock!
Teamwork: Chores give kids a sense of being part of something bigger: they have something to contribute to the team – aka the family. And there is such a sense of fulfilment in this! It’ll be sure to benefit their teamwork skills in study, work and family situations in the future.
Respect and care for others: Chores aren’t selfish: they benefit the whole family – be it from a trimmed lawn that everyone can find aesthetically pleasing, a well-prepared meal for all to enjoy, or a clean sitting room to relax in together. This encourages kids to think beyond themselves to how they can look after those around them; encouraging them to grow in generosity instead of using that mind-space to focus on themselves. It also helps them to be more grateful when others do something for them!
Responsibility: By giving a child a specific chore, he or she realises that the family is depending on them to get something particular done; something which affects everyone’s quality of life. Kids learn on a subconscious level that their actions have an impact on others, as does the absence of their promised actions. And a sense of responsibility towards others makes for a good citizen!
Order: With a chore to do, a child learns to prioritise and organise their time. They may not have a lengthy to-do list, but fitting in chores will help them to fight laziness, and to learn to put chores before relaxation.
That’s only a few – what other benefits do you think come from kids doing their chores?