Much to my childrens’ chagrin, I’m a firm believer that children should help out around the house. This is because when children do their fair share of the household chores, they learn to take responsibility for themselves and be contributing members of the family.
This parenting approach has both short-term and long-term benefits. Not only do parents get help with the daily household chores, but in the long run their children are more responsible, self-sufficient and work better with others.
1.) Make chores age-appropriate. Children can begin helping around the house as young as three years old. However, it’s important that children be given age-appropriate chores. Young children should be assigned small chores that increase in difficulty as they get older. However, be sure not to give your child too many chores or they will become overwhelmed and discouraged.
Here are some examples of age-appropriate chores: Children 3 to 5 years old can help make their bed, pick up their toys, help feed pets and sweep with a broom and dust pan. Children 6 to 8 years old can help set and clear the table, dust, help carry and put away groceries, fold laundry and take out the trash. Children 9 to 12 years old can wash the car, load and unload the dishwasher, help prepare meals, vacuum and do yard work. Teenagers can do the laundry, make grocery lists, prepare meals, and clean appliances and bathrooms.
2.) Focus on effort, not outcome. When children are first beginning to help out around the house it is important to focus on their effort, not how well the task is completed. In other words, provide positive feedback and accept your child’s best effort even though the finished product may not meet your higher standards. Encouraging your child to help out is more important in the long run than a perfectly folded washcloth or perfectly made bed! While helping your child with a task may take more time and effort than doing the job yourself, you’re teaching your child valuable life skills.
3.) Model a good attitude. It is important that parents model a positive attitude about helping around the house. While you don’t have to pretend to love cleaning the bathrooms, share with your children the satisfaction you feel when you’ve completed a task. When parents complain about housework they’re teaching their children to dislike chores. However, children need to understand that housework and chores are a part of life. Work side by side with your children and try to have a little fun while doing housework. Singing songs together can really make the time doing chores more enjoyable. Those seven dwarfs were really onto something when they whistled while they worked!