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Asking ‘should kids have chores?’ is a normal query that most parents have, particularly as children face seemingly increasing demands on their time.

Some parents consider giving their children chores as a natural part of their parental duties. In contrast, some people believe chores infringe on children’s time for play, relaxation, and entertainment. Of course, sometimes parents avoid insisting their kids do chores simply to avoid squabbles and arguments. When your children are attending school and extracurricular activities, giving them chores to do may seem like you’re eating into their already limited free time.

However, many experts maintain that doing chores can be good for a child’s development. Although the issue of kids doing chores should be addressed carefully, you can rest assured that asking your kid to undertake chores can be beneficial to them and the family as a whole.

What are chores?

Chores are typically defined as tasks that are required to keep the family home running smoothly. They may include:

  • Taking out the trash
  • Vacuuming
  • Feeding pets
  • Mowing in the lawn
  • Dusting
  • Doing the dishes
  • Preparing a meal
  • Laying the table
  • Changing the bedclothes
  • Doing laundry
  • Ironing

Of course, parents are ultimately responsible for the safety and maintenance of the home. As your children grow, however, they can be assigned age-appropriate chores. This helps to develop their own sense of responsibility, builds their practical skills, and helps them to understand the needs of others.

Why don’t children like doing chores?

Kids and chores aren’t necessarily natural companions! If you find that yelling ‘do your chores’ is becoming a frequent refrain in your household, you’re probably struggling to get your kids to complete their chores on time. This isn’t uncommon.

In fact, the vast majority of families argue about chores. Whether it’s who has most chores, who has to do what tasks, when they need to be done or whether they’ve been completed to a satisfactory standard, there will inevitably be disagreements about chores at some point.

While endless squabbles and procrastination can be difficult to cope with, don’t let this dissuade you from insisting your children undertake chores. Although it can be frustrating when your kids repeatedly argue or avoid chores, it is well worth enforcing the rules regarding household work.

Understanding why children rally against doing chores can make it easier to cope with the disagreements you’ll face.

Kids may be reluctant to take on chores for a variety of reasons, including
  • Lack of immediate gratification
  • Unawareness of what work is required
  • More focused on themselves

Children, by their nature, think about their needs and wants. For a young person, there is little reward in taking out the trash, so they see no reason why they should do it. Similarly, they are self-focused and unaware of the needs of other people, so don’t consider the impact of them doing or not doing chores has on other family members. Of course, kids are rarely aware of how much work goes into running a household either. This means they genuinely don’t understand just how much their parents and caregivers do in order to provide a clean and well-maintained home.

By doing chores, however, children can begin to understand these important lessons. As chores become a natural part of your household routine, your child’s understanding of other peoples’ needs, and the work required to run a household become more realistic. In addition to this, the regime of doing chores before doing something more fun teaches children to be less impulsive and to delay gratification when other responsibilities need to be addressed.

Facts about chores

A significant amount of research regarding the impact of chores has been undertaken and it is generally accepted that age-appropriate chores can be beneficial for children in a number of ways.

These include:
  • Learning important life skills
  • Understanding other people’s needs
  • Teaching children about responsibility
  • Encouraging kids to be less impulsive
  • Making everyone feel that they are a valued member of the family

With so many benefits associated with kids doing chores, it’s easy to see why so many families choose to make chores an essential part of their routine. If you’re considering introducing chores to your family, however, you’ll want to know how to go about it.

Introducing chores in your household

Before you ask your children to do chores, think about what needs to be done around the house and which tasks are appropriate for each child, based on their age and skill set. Many experts believe that children can be assigned simple chores from the age of three, so be sure to include as many members of the family as possible.

An older child may have vacuuming as one of their chores, for example, while a much younger child may be tasked with pulling the comforter up on their bed each morning. While the importance of a particular task shouldn’t be emphasized, each child should be praised for the responsibility associated with completing their chores.

Some parents choose to take an authoritative approach to chores and simply assign specific tasks to each child. However, others find that a collaborative approach works best. Holding a family meeting where you can discuss who will undertake which chores can be a good way to get kids on board with the idea of doing chores around the home.

Should kids get rewarded for doing chores?

There are many different approaches to doing chores, so you can find one that works well for your family. Three of the most common arrangements are:

Chores in exchange for allowance

With this arrangement, your child’s allowance is dependent on whether they have completed their chores and whether they have been done to a satisfactory standard. If your child fails to complete some or all of their chores, their allowance will be docked or removed accordingly.

If you favor this approach, it can be a good idea to set out the consequences of failing to complete each chore so that everyone is aware of how the system works. This prevents parents from issuing different punishments and ensures that everyone is treated fairly.

Chores are kept separate from allowance

Some parents choose not to give their children an allowance, which means it cannot be used in conjunction with chores. Alternatively, some parents believe that everyone should do chores to contribute towards the family home, rather than for a financial incentive. Another reason why some parents take this approach is to ensure their children will have the opportunity to learn about finances and budgeting, regardless of whether or not they have completed their chores.

Chores in exchange for privileges

Many families choose to use chores to enable their children to gain privileges, such as extra screen time. When your child completes their chores on time, they may be allowed to use their games console, for example. This can work well as it ensures children experience the consequences of doing or not doing their chores swiftly, which reinforces the link.

Giving your children chores

Although chores can be a contentious issue in a family home, they are an important part of growing up. By giving your child the responsibility to perform certain tasks, you are building their self-esteem, increasing their responsibility and preparing them for their future.