The amount of time children spend helping around the home has been dropping for decades. Even since 1981 — when kids were probably not doing much — their chore time has dropped by 25 percent, to 24 minutes a day, researchers say. Of course readers of this blog probably won’t have allowed their offspring to get off so lightly. Still, most parents probably have to struggle to train their children to contribute at home, but, as Brett and Kate McKay write on The Art of Manliness blog, this effort is essential not only out of fairness to the family but for helping the child grow to become a fully-functioning adult eventually.

Their article, “The Art of Dadliness: How to Get Your Kids to Do Their Chores (And Why It’s So Important They Do Them)” is longish but full of good sense, pictures, quotes and practical tips. It begins:

Every dad wants his children to grow up to be responsible, contributing members of society. But before they head out on their own and make their mark on the world, our kids need to learn how to be responsible, contributing members of the family household. Household chores are training exercises for real life. Chores not only teach children important life skills that will prepare them for living on their own, and impart a pull-your-own-weight work ethic, but recent studies show that starting chores at an early age gives children an enormous leg-up in other areas of their life as well.

This is an interesting snippet:

Anthropologists studying child-rearing across cultures have noted that this “chore strike” by children is primarily a Western phenomenon. In developing societies, children are almost universally eager to help out and be useful. For example, in the remote Guarra settlement in Nepal, children as young as 18 months carry firewood and water. Young boys of the Nuer people of Southern Sudan and Western Ethiopia can be found herding sheep and goats without any cajoling from their parents. And infants in a community in Zaire are taught to use even “dangerous” tools like the machete with skill. 

Don’t believe it? There’s a picture of an 11 month old Efe baby cutting a fruit with a machete! The moral is, start young.

Read it all here.

Thanks to Ricardo Peralta for this tip.

Carolyn Moynihan

Carolyn Moynihan is the former deputy editor of MercatorNet