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Should Kids do Chores?

   Posted by Patsig on April 6, 2012

Most parents believe that chores are a way of teaching responsibility. Even when parents don’t involve kids in chores---they think they should!

Children learn skills like being helpful, sharing and showing concern for others by participating in household tasks. We often start by teaching children to pick up after themselves. But they gain more “helping” skills when the work they do benefits others.Things like taking care of a pet, helping prepare meals, bringing diapers for a sibling are some examples of helping others.

Researchers have found children as young as 18 months offer to help with household tasks. When parents made a simple statement such as “Just look at those papers” toddlers would respond by picking things up. The key was leaving the task undone—so the child had the opportunity to do it. The amount of work performed is linked to the amount parents leave for children to do. The “offers” of help may become less frequent as children get older, so you might choose to start early!
Why Not Do chores?

You may think, “you’re only young once” or “childhood is for play”. Sometimes it’s easier to do the job yourself while your child is napping. Parents have reported, “I know it’s wrong, but it’s quicker!” Allowing your child to help with chores takes a lot of time and patience. It also means giving up some control. They may not do it “your way.” Sometimes we have to realize there are many ways to fold a washcloth.
Reasons for chores:

• To learn responsibility: Most people believe work is good for kids.

• To contribute: Everyone needs to pitch in and help the family.

• To share the workload: Kids that help clean may make fewer messes.

• To learn skills: Your child will know how to cook, clean and do household tasks.

There are benefits and challenges when involving your preschooler in household chores. You will have to make your own choices. But if you want your youngster to help out, you may wish to start when they show interest—which often is before their 2nd birthday!

Posted , updated Dec 06, 2005.
Should kids do chores?

Deborah McClellan, MS
University of Illinois Extension

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