If you have been a parent for more than a few years you will have realised the frustration involved in trying to get some children to help out around the house with doing simple chores. But should they be doing chores at all, and if so, why? Read on to get our take on the situation.
Young children need to understand about life. Their growing body takes up more room, gains additional strength and gives them the ability to do new and wonderful things every year that they may not have been able to do last year. A part of this growing process also means they need to understand about the important life skills they will require to get through life. And this includes simple everyday things such as doing the laundry, keeping the house clean, feeding themselves and others, and doing the dishes.
Being taught to assist around the house teaches the child about judgement, and cause and effect. If everyone is hungry but no one bothers going to the shop or preparing a meal, then what is everyone to eat? If we all eat a big dinner but no one does the dishes then eventually the house will become rat-infested and there will be no dishes left to cook any further meals. And if no one puts out the rubbish or keeps the yard under control, no one would want to live in the house any longer.
Chores also teach children important skills about discipline and relating to and interacting with other people. We used to involve all our children in preparing meals, setting the table, cleaning up afterwards, and doing the dishes. All of these chores required them to talk to each other and with us, so that we had some degree of coordination in the kitchen. They learned that a simple conversation now could prevent an angry blowup later, and that working together often accomplished more than doing it alone. It also meant that from a very early age they understood their responsibility in doing these tasks without argument, and they learnt that being a part of the family came with certain daily responsibilities.
One thing that often goes unnoticed is the mastery children develop by doing increasingly more difficult jobs around the house. What might start out with picking up some simple toys in their room as a two year-old, might then move on to straightening up their room, making their bed, doing the vacuuming, mopping the floors, taking out the trash, and dusting their ornaments and trophies by the time they are ten. Being given age-appropriate chores can allow them to slowly gain confidence in accomplishing more detailed tasks.
I recently overheard a young woman in her early 20’s telling a friend that she had to ‘learn how to make a washing machine work‘, as she has just moved in with her boyfriend and up until now, her mum always did the washing. OMG!
By the time they enter their teenage years your children should be accepting daily and weekly chores as a normal part of life where they can cook a simple range of meals, iron their clothes, clean the house windows, babysit their younger siblings, clean the car, do the laundry and successfully compile a shopping list for the household. The children who can do this will be more able to set up their own household successfully than those who never did the chores in the first place.
Would you agree? Does anyone disagree? We would love to know your thoughts below.
And while here, why not also check out ‘Why your children need to learn their values from you rather than from dysfunctional TV families.’
Living each adventure,
Christine and Trevor Barre
Empowering people to live a healthy, active, authentic and fulfilling life.
Adelaide, South Australia.
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DISCLAIMER: This article is written for informational purposes only and is based on Christine and Trevor’s own life experiences. No food featured on this site should ever be consumed or handled if known or suspected allergies exist. Nothing featured here should be taken as medical, professional or legal advice. It is always recommended that you consult the appropriate professional before changing any routine or adopting any new procedure.