Children and chores - they may not like doing them, but getting your children involved in household chores from a young age has plenty of benefits.
As adults, we know that a clean and tidy house not only ensures we get out the door quicker in the morning (without stepping on hidden piles of Lego), but also that we can find the things we need reasonably quickly. Then there are of course the usual health and safety aspects of having a clean home.
But, for children, learning to do chores is more than having a tidy home; it is yet another development stage, and a fairly important one. For those with young toddlers, you’ll notice that they will happily start helping with chores around 18 - 24 months. These tend to be simple jobs like helping to take out the rubbish, wiping the table after they eat, and putting cutlery away. If your child attends an early learning centre, like Treasured Tots, you will notice that your children will learn to pack up their toys, wipe the table and put away things when they have finished using them.
At this age, it may seem like they are just copying what those around them are doing, but these simple chores play a role in the development and improvement of coordination and motor skills. It is these skills that help children as they get older to do other jobs such as making their bed or folding their clothes.
Not only do household chores help with motor development and coordination, but they also help with other skills that your child will need as they grow older - understanding and following directions, developing planning, organisation and time management skills. Getting these skills while younger produces some really interesting results.
Researchers working on the Learning Habits Study found that children who did household chores, particularly from a younger age, score higher on measures of academic success. Learning to do chores allows children to learn self-help skills, growing their independence while at the same time gaining a sense of responsibility and contributing to the day to day functioning of the family.
Self-worth and belonging are really important feelings that children develop as they grow. While you may want to step in and do everything (often because it is quicker or your child isn’t doing it right), your child will start to feel dependent on others or gain a sense of entitlement in having everything done for them.
If you have an older child, there’s every chance you’ve had them refuse to do their chores or ask why they have to do them, and it is a fair enough question - it’s certainly not unusual to question why you have to do something you don’t like. As a parent, it’s important to remind your child that most people don’t like doing household chores and would rather be doing something else, but it is part of having a clean and tidy home, and that they need to be done.
It may be worthwhile asking your child what they think would happen if no one did household chores - who would wash their clothes, clean the dishes, make their bed, put their toys away and so on. This then allows them to realise why those boring chores are essential. Depending on the age of your child, you may be able to explain that learning to do these jobs now means they will know how to take care of themselves and their home when they are older.
Should you pay your children for doing chores? There are many thoughts around this, with some agreeing that paying children is a great way to get them to start understanding that without doing some work, they would receive no money to pay for the things they enjoy. Others feel that everyone should pitch in with the day to day chores and that it is only things outside of this (such as washing the car or mowing the lawn) that should be paid.
There really is no easy answer for whether you pay your children to complete chores or not. Paying your children for their contribution to keeping a tidy home will help them develop a respect for earning money and for money itself. If you are wanting to pay your child, there are two ways you could go about it.
You may decide to make a list of weekly chores that must be completed before your child is paid, or you could make up a list of chores, with a set price per one, and it is left up to your child how much they wish to earn. Bigger tasks are paid more, while smaller tasks are paid less.
Whether you decide to pay your child or not, age appropriate, weekly chores can help your child develop a range of skills that will help them as they grow and move into the next phase of childhood and then into being adults.