Chores play an important role in building the family when parents assign age-appropriate duties. Chores teach the responsibility of taking an active role in the family, and the duties allow children to quickly learn the time taken to clean and complete necessary household duties. Shelia Gains, instructor at the Colorado State University Extension, finds household chores help children develop a sense of self-worth and pride in accomplishments. Research from the University of Minnesota reports that children assigned basic chores beginning at age 3 had more success in selecting a career path and interpersonal relationships later in life.
The Colorado State University Extension notes children develop a closer relationship with the family when working as a team, and completing household chores offers one way to build family unity. Assigning children household chores that require the child to work with a parent or older sibling builds trust and a feeling of sharing important work for the family. Partnering with family members for chores helps children build confidence in working as a team and assists children in learning how to do basic household duties by watching the adult model the best way to complete the chore.
The chore list should reflect the family member's ability to complete the duty. Children in kindergarten or first grade typically have the ability to do many chores around the house, but height or the lack of strength may create a problem to complete some chores. Carrying a heavy trash bag downstairs, for instance, creates a danger for small children, but using a wagon to move the bag from the backyard to the street for collection after another family member removes the bag from the house allows the child to complete this important duty. Train your child for more demanding chores as your he ages by partnering family members for the chore until your child feels comfortable completing the duty alone. The National Mental Health and Education Center recommends teens in the family accept chores that involve basic independent living skills, including food shopping and preparation, bedroom and bath cleaning, laundry duties and car maintenance.
Effective chore lists incorporate time limits and a schedule to complete the assigned duties. Children understand the importance of removing trash for street collection, for instance, when the schedule lists a deadline before the city garbage collection. Scheduling also encourages effective use of time management and demonstrates the need for planning. Divide chores on the family list according to the time required to complete the daily or weekly job, and set a monthly chore time minimum and maximum for each family member to encourage equal contributions.
Rotating regular chores on the family list allows children to learn how to do many helpful activities around the home. A rotating chore list allows family members the opportunity to select a few favorite duties and pass the least favorite jobs to other family members for part of the month. Dividing the duties for the remaining household chores reinforces that everyone in the family works on the team. The Colorado State University Extension recommends rotating duties after your child develops a mastery of several household chores. Give your child a voice in volunteering for a variety of chores to help build confidence.
- National Mental Health and Education Center: Teenagers and Chores -- Guidelines for Parents
- Family Education: The Importance of Chores
- Scholastic Parents: It's a Chore Thing
- Scholastic Parents: Daily Tips -- Chores for the School-Aged Child
- University of Minnesota College of Education and Human Development: Involving Children in Household Tasks -- Is It Worth the Effort?
- Colorado State University Extention: Children and Chores
- Jupiterimages/Creatas/Getty Images