We all know that helping out around the house is important. But did you know research shows that children who participate in family chores, starting at ages 3-4, are more successful in their 20’s.(Marty Rossmann, University of Minnesota, 2002). There is still hope for those of us with older kids, but it does get harder as children get older.
According to Rossmann’s research, the later you start, the harder it is to catch up. If children are introduced to chores at a later age, there’s a greater chance that they will be more self-centered and will not see the value of pitching into help the greater good of the entire family.
My girls are 6 and 8, and while we have always included some chores in their weekly diet, my awareness of this research is prompting me to step my game up. Big time. No more “can you please help mommy by putting your toys away?” or “please put your plate in the sink after dinner.” These are nice, respectful questions, but they also make me the keeper of housework and household accountability. We’ve been playing with chore charts for a few weeks and I love how my girls know exactly what’s expected of them. They can do it at their own pace and all I have to do is remind them to check the chart.
Aside from falling off the bandwagon a few times: a birthday, grandparents visiting, and an overnight camping trip, the chart has been a success and my fingers are crossed that my kids will continue building toward some of the many benefits and values that come from doing chores.
Benefits of chores
- be more empathetic
- have better relationships with family and friends
- have higher self-esteem
- be better at delaying gratification (read up on Stanford’s Famous Marshmallow Experiment for more on that)
- be more responsible
- be better prepared to get through difficult or uncomfortable life events
- be less self-centered
- learn the value of hard work
- be held accountable
- practice discipline
This article, Why Children Need Chores, is a fun read.
Some things to keep in mind when choosing chores:
- Children will be more invested if they choose their own chores
- Chosen chores should help the entire family, not just the child
- Be encouraging and limit praise around chores
- Limit the number of chores so children feel success and accomplishment
If you’re looking for chore ideas, I put together this full list of 32 Chore Ideas for Kids, organized by age.
We’re tried all sorts of tools for encouraging our children (now ages 6 and 8) to help out around the house: gentle nagging, not-so-gentle nagging, laminated cards with chores on them, and simple hand-written charts. I finally gave up and created a printable chore chart that we can print off at the beginning of each week. It’s working for us so I made one for you to use.
Get a Customizable Chore Chart
If you’d like to grab your own ready-to-go, customizable chore chart, click here.
- Print it out weekly
- This chore chart includes blank spaces that you can write chores into. This keeps it flexible so you can change chores each week.
- There’s room at the top for your child to write his or her name. Use stickers, markers, colored pencils. Have fun personalizing it.
- Your child can x, check, or draw pictures in the boxes
- Some of the chores on my list are daily and others like “clean the hamster cage” are weekly. For non-daily chores, you could leave blank or pre-fill the boxes with color or checks.
- You can print this in color or black and white.
- Bonus: This PDF also includes a complete list of chore ideas for children ages 2-18.
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