There is always a debate on whether children should be given house chores or not – with those being for them helping say that it teaches them so much, whereas those against the idea say let kids be kids for as long as they can be as childhood is short and should be full of fun.
Where do you fall on this spectrum?
I for one am all for children helping around the house – it has so many benefits to everyone involved that I find it hard to really see why you wouldn’t get them doing a few bits at least, ensuring the balance is right between work and play of course!
#1 – Learn skills
The most important reason as far as I am concerned is that getting children involved in doing chores gives them a massive set of life skills that will benefit them forever.
The one thing that we all need to learn is how to run a home, after all, we all have to live somewhere. We therefore need to understand how to clean, how to cook, how to shop, how to budget, how to do DIY etc….. in order to make the most out of our time and money throughout life.
It is, however, one of the things that schools don’t necessarily teach fully, so it is one of the main parts of learning that is down to parents to provide for our children before they leave home.
And what better time to start than when they are really young? It makes it just a part of life, no big deal, and a habit for them to help.
Children love to copy their parents, and they love to learn. It’s only us that makes household chores a chore!
If we teach them these life skills a little at a time while they are growing up, they will move out so much more confident and able to live by themselves without running into problems – and really – what a great gift for a parent give their children!
#2 – Responsibility
Giving your child a specific job or a specific area in the house to look after will help them learn how to be responsible in later life – a skill again we all need to enable us to get through life more easily.
This could be their bedroom, a family pet, or their toys for example.
Things that relate directly to them are a great place to start as they will see the benefit of keeping things organised, clean, tidy – and also appreciate more what you do for them as they grow up.
#3 – Respect
A lot of parents (myself included a few years ago) tend to wait until the kids are asleep/at school etc… until they get on with all the cleaning/cooking/washing etc…. around the house.
One day I realised a really important thing. If children never see how much work and upkeep goes into running a house, how are they meant to learn how to do it themselves, and how are they meant to respect the house, their belongings, and you for doing it?
For all they know – a house fairy comes along and waves a magic wand, and it just basically looks after itself!
If children can see (and get involved) in how much work is involved in running a house, then they will slowly and subconsciously become more aware of what mess they leave around, and how they contribute to the work involved.
For example – they are less likely to just bung all their clothes in the wash basket whether they are clean or not, if they are involved in getting the washing done, and they may be less likely to leave all their toys out if they are responsible for putting them all away at the end of the day.
It may take time, but learning what is involved in chores can really help a child to gain respect for the house, and for those who live there.
#4 – Pride
Children like to feel proud about their achievements – just think about when they win a race in sports day, when they go up a reading level at school, or when they learn a new skill like riding a bike.
Helping around the house can really help to give them a sense of pride everyday, and giving them praise for helping will make them want to do more.
They will feel happy to be able to contribute to the house, and not just be a bystander.
#5 – Planning
Learning to think ahead at what may need to be done, what the consequences of things are etc…are skills that we all need, and planning is a life skill that can be gained from helping around the house.
If a child starts to gain responsibilities, then allow them to work out when and how to do these tasks – let them have some say in the planning and they will feel more engaged and involved.
As they get older you can start to teach them how to understand the needs of themselves and others and plan accordingly (i.e. if they have to help with their washing, then let them learn to ensure that they wash things in time to wear etc….) or what about with younger children and simply tidying up – they may start to plan ahead and work out that its quicker to tidy up one thing before they get another out rather than leave a huge mess until the end of the day.
#6 – Becoming Self Reliant
Although of course, children should be able to rely on their parents to help them, giving them the skill of self reliance is huge as they are growing up.
It builds confidence if they understand how to do things themselves rather than being hand held the whole time.
#7 – Teamwork
Being part of a family that lives under one roof means that you are automatically part of a team, and being able to work as a team can only benefit children in later life.
Teamwork involves listening to others, depending on others, delegating, working together, helping out others who struggle (i.e younger siblings), and a whole variety of other related skills.
When my family are doing chores or errands etc… then we refer to ourselves as a team. It suddenly puts everyone on a even footing, so children want to be a part of that team and help as they feel ownership and responsibility.
#8 – Keeps them busy
Anyone who has children will have heard the “I’m bored” cry many times I’m sure!
Now, I’m not saying you should just keep giving children chores so that they have no free time, but just having some chores to do will mean they are automatically a little busier, so naturally will be less likely to moan about being bored.
It also helps to keep them busy while you get on with your chores as well – which hopefully means they will be done quicker and so you have more time to play!
#9 – Work Ethic
Why not create a work ethic in your kids as soon as possible?
You could create a list of things that they are responsible for each week, and if they get them all done then they get some pocket money, or you could pay them a few pennies for each job they help with.
There are lots of ways that you can help them to get that entrepreneurial spirit, and this may then lead to proper jobs as they grow older such as a paper round or babysitting etc….
#10 – Finding the fun
Chores can be fun. There, I said it!
When my daughter was very little I used to think that I had to play with her and not do any chores until she was sleeping. However, I soon came to realise that she just loved spending time with me, no matter what I was doing, and what she considered playing was anything and everything!.
Children are full of enthusiasm over most things – and they don’t understand that chores aren’t meant to be fun yet – so why not keep this sentiment for as long as possible!
Have your children walk round the house with you while you are doing chores, get them involved (give them a duster so they can mimic you when they are really young), make things a race etc…. – if you can make chores fun then you are automatically making life easier for everyone!
Also, if you are all helping out with chores, they are done more quickly and so there will be more time to go out and have fun afterwards too – so its a win-win!
#11 – Time to chat
An often underestimated reason for getting children to help around the house is that while they are helping, they are more likely to chat to you about whats going on in their lives.
The reason for this is that you are there, but your focus isn’t fully on them which sometimes helps them to feel more at ease talking to you about things.
I read recently in a magazine (I can’t remember which one, but it was a fitness one from the gym), that the best way to talk to boys was to go running with them, as they were using up all the energy young boys have, but they were also not looking at you and so it’s easier for them to talk.
I know I for one used to close up as a teenager if asked directly about anything in my life – yet I was more than happy opening up to people when we were out for a walk or doing other things, and so there is definitely something in this theory I think.
Something for you to ponder on!
All these reasons for getting kids to help with household chores means that they’ll grow up with a great set of skills that can only be of benefit to them throughout their lives.
As soon as they get a job of their own, a house of their own, and create their own lives, you can rest easy as you can be assured that they have the skills they need – the sense of responsibility, the work ethic, the understanding, the ability to work in a team and plan etc…. – and that has all emanated from helping you out with the housework from a young age.
Running a home is one of the main life skills you can learn, and its one of our main jobs as parents to give our children the skills to live independently.
There can be a real sense of satisfaction when you teach kids such fantastic life skills – so why not get started today